New kidnapping in Nigeria school, hundreds of girls missing

Photo of author

By admin

KANO | Hundreds of teenage girls are missing after the attack on a boarding school Thursday to Friday by gunmen in northwest Nigeria, where mass kidnappings targeting students are on the rise.

Local authorities have confirmed to AFP the attack on Jangebe middle school in Zamfara state by armed men, as well as the kidnapping of students.

“The armed men arrived in the school with vehicles, then they forced some of the girls to walk with them,” said Sulaiman Tunau Anka, the local government spokesperson. “We are still in the process of verifying the exact number of abducted girls,” he added.

For his part, a professor speaking on condition of anonymity said that “more than 300 girls are still missing”.

Another professor said for his part that 600 teenage girls were in the dormitories during the attack, and that only “fifty” “were found”. He added that the missing girls may have been kidnapped or escaped.

Security forces have been deployed in the area “to track down these criminals”, according to local authorities.

Kagara, Kankara, Chibok

This kidnapping is the latest in a series of kidnappings of adolescents perpetrated in central and north-western Nigeria by criminal groups, known locally as “bandits”, who terrorize populations, steal livestock and loot villages. .

Nine days ago, armed men stormed a boarding school in Kagara in neighboring Niger state, where 42 people, including 27 students, were kidnapped.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has launched a rescue operation and negotiations with the kidnappers are underway according to authorities, but the hostages have still not been released.

These criminal gangs are generally motivated by greed, but some have forged links with jihadist groups present in northeastern Nigeria, hundreds of kilometers away.

This is particularly the case of those who kidnapped last December 344 students in a boarding school in the city of Kankara, in the neighboring state of Katsina.

The group had acted on behalf of the jihadist group Boko Haram.

However, the adolescents of Kankara had been released after a week of captivity, following negotiations with these “bandits”.

On February 9, the person responsible for the kidnapping, an armed group leader called Awwalun Daudawa, surrendered to the authorities in exchange for an amnesty agreement.

This kidnapping caused a worldwide stir and revived the memory of the kidnapping in 2014 by Boko Haram of more than 200 young girls in Chibok, in the northeast of the country.

In February 2018, the jihadist group also kidnapped 105 girls from a school in the Northeast. A month later, all of them were released, except for the only Christian in the group, Leah Sharibu.

“War crimes”

Criminal gangs in northern and central Nigeria have practiced kidnapping for ransom for years by attacking villages or buses on highways. But in recent months, they have stepped up attacks on schools.

“We are angry and saddened by this brutal new attack on schoolchildren,” reacted Peter Hawkins, the representative of Unicef ​​in Nigeria in a statement.

“We (…) call on those responsible for this attack to release the girls immediately and on the government to take measures to ensure their safe release, as well as the safety of all other school children in Nigeria,” he said. he adds.

Human rights NGO Amnesty International also condemned the attack on Twitter, saying that “attacks on schools and kidnappings of teenage girls are war crimes”.

“In northern Nigeria, education is under attack. Schools should be places of safety and no child should have to choose between education and life, ”writes the NGO.

After Kagara’s kidnapping nine days ago, Senate Speaker Ahmad Lawan said a new “strategy” should be adopted by the government to ensure school safety.

“This wave of kidnappings will certainly have a negative effect on the desire and willingness of parents to send their children to school,” he lamented.

Criminal violence by these gangs has killed more than 8,000 people since 2011, and forced more than 200,000 people to flee their homes, according to a report by the International Crisis Group (ICG) think tank published in May 2020.