Dozens of schoolchildren were kidnapped by gunmen on Saturday evening in northwestern Nigeria before being released Sunday morning thanks to the armed intervention of a vigilante group and the police, the police said. ‘AFP local police spokesperson Gambo Isah.
Saturday evening, “80 schoolchildren who were returning to their village of Mahuta, in Katsina state (…) were kidnapped by bandits who had already kidnapped four people and stolen 12 cows,” said the spokesperson, specifying that the “84 people kidnapped were recovered” Sunday morning.
According to local sources, the number of these schoolchildren stands at 113.
The children were abducted Saturday evening near the village of Baure as they returned with their teachers from a religious ceremony in a nearby village, the head of a self-defense militia Abdullahi Sada told AFP.
When the news reached Mahuta, the city where the children are from, the inhabitants and the militiamen of the self-defense group mobilized and then went in search of the kidnappers, quickly identified as members of the Fulani pastoralist community. , he added.
“We invaded their area, we knew they were holding the children and also took some members of their community hostage, warning that if anything happened to our children, no Fulani would live here anymore,” Sada added. .
The operation made it possible to “dislodge the bandits and save the 84 kidnapped victims,” said the spokesperson for the police, adding that the latter is continuing with a view to “arresting the bandits” and that ” investigation has been opened ”.
Armed gangs, called “bandits”, sometimes several hundred strong, have been sowing terror for several years in rural areas of central and north-western Nigeria, practicing on a large scale cattle rustling and kidnapping for ransom.
Residents have set up self-defense groups to protect themselves but fail to end the violence, which has killed some 8,000 people since 2011.
This new kidnapping of schoolchildren took place 48 hours after the release of 344 children and adolescents, kidnapped from their boarding school on December 11 by criminals operating on behalf of the jihadist group Boko Haram in the same region of Nigeria.