Abduction of students in Nigeria: freed adolescents prepare to reunite with their families

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Hundreds of teenage girls released Tuesday after being held captive for four days by armed men who attacked their boarding school in northwestern Nigeria, will be reunited with their families on Wednesday afternoon, local authorities told AFP .

“We are bringing the girls back to their school in Jangebe this afternoon, where they will be handed over to their parents,” Zamfara State Minister of Education Ibrahim Abdullahi told AFP on Wednesday.

On Friday, 279 young girls were kidnapped by armed men in the dormitories of their school in Jangebe, in Zamfara state.

Released after negotiations between the kidnappers and the local authorities, the young girls have been since Tuesday morning in the premises of the government of Zamfara, in Gusau, the capital of this state.

“We believe that it is safer for parents to find their children at school rather than coming to Gusau,” added Mr. Abdullahi, who specifies that the young girls have had a medical examination.

It was the fourth mass kidnapping of schoolchildren in less than three months in northwestern Nigeria, where criminal groups, known locally as ‘bandits’, are increasing large-scale cattle raids and kidnapping for ransom for over ten years.

Zamfara is the bastion of many “bandits” and the authorities of this state are used to discussing with criminal groups, with whom they have been negotiating amnesty agreements for more than a year in exchange for the handing over of their weapons.

The Zamfara authorities thus actively participated in the negotiations which led to the release in December of 344 boys abducted from their boarding school in the neighboring state of Katsina.

With each release, they deny paying any ransom to the kidnappers, but that is however little doubt for security experts who fear that this could lead to an increase in kidnappings.

This new kidnapping revived the memory of the kidnapping of Chibok in 2014, when the jihadist group Boko Haram kidnapped 276 high school girls in the northeast of the country, causing worldwide emotion.

More than a hundred of them are still missing.

The “bandits”, however, act primarily for profit and not for ideological reasons, even if some have forged links with jihadist groups in the North East.