Nigerian Governor Says 279 Kidnapped Schoolgirls Are Freed



(Reuters) – Gunmen who kidnapped practically 300 schoolgirls from a boarding faculty in northwest Nigeria final week beat them and threatened to shoot them throughout a pressured march into captivity, victims mentioned on Tuesday after they have been let out.

The pupils from Jangebe, a city in Zamfara state, have been seized in a raid simply after midnight on Friday. All 279 had now been launched the gunmen, Zamfara Governor Bello Matawalle mentioned.

Dozens of ladies in Muslim veils sat in a corridor in a state authorities constructing earlier than being taken for medical checks. A number of mother and father arrived, and one father wept with pleasure after seeing his daughter.

Farida Lawali, 15, instructed how she and the opposite women had been taken to a forest the abductors.

“They carried the sick ones that can’t transfer. We have been strolling within the stones and thorns,” she mentioned, coated in a light-weight blue veil.

“They began hitting us with weapons in order that we might transfer,” she added. “Whereas they have been beating them with weapons, a few of them have been crying and transferring on the similar time.”

One other of the ladies, Umma Abubakar, instructed Reuters they have been pressured to stroll though many had accidents: “They mentioned they may shoot anyone who didn’t proceed to stroll.”

Aid at their return was tempered concern over the circumstances of their launch. A collection of comparable faculty abductions in latest months has led many Nigerians to fret that regional authorities are making the scenario worse letting kidnappers go unpunished or paying them off.

Zailani Bappa, a media adviser to the state governor, denied {that a} ransom had been paid, however mentioned the captors had been provided amnesty, in addition to help to resettle at a web site with newly constructed faculties, a hospital and different amenities.

“The method means amnesty for many who repent and can be assisted to resettle,” he mentioned. “Those that give up their arms can be assisted to begin a brand new life. Since they’re herders, they are going to be supported with a number of cows every.”

However the state’s obvious conciliatory strategy was at odds with the central authorities. President Muhammadu Buhari known as for the captors to be delivered to justice and mentioned that if ransoms have been being paid, this is able to make future assaults extra possible.

His nationwide safety adviser, Babagana Monguno, mentioned the president had ordered a large navy deployment to Zamfara, banned mining and imposed a no-fly zone within the state.

The central authorities “is not going to permit this nation to float into state failure,” Monguno mentioned. “We aren’t going to be blackmailed.”

However the navy is already stretched, and it was tough to evaluate whether or not the flight and mining bans would have a lot affect in a state with no main airport, and the place many mines already function illegally.

CRIMINAL GANGS

Boarding faculties in northern Nigeria have change into targets for mass kidnappings for ransom armed legal gangs.

The pattern was began the jihadist group Boko Haram, which kidnapped 270 schoolgirls from the city of Chibok in 2014, round 100 of whom have no means been discovered. However latest months have seen a sudden escalation of comparable assaults, together with the kidnapping of 344 boys in December.

Friday’s raid on the Authorities Ladies Science Secondary Faculty was the second faculty abduction in little over per week.

Officers, talking on situation of anonymity, have instructed Reuters that the authorities have made payoffs previously in change for little one hostages, creating an incentive for abductions.

A number of of these officers declined to touch upon Tuesday on whether or not they believed a ransom had been paid within the newest incident.

Lawal Abdullahi, whose seven daughters have been amongst these kidnapped and freed, mentioned the incident wouldn’t deter him from education his youngsters.

“It’s a ploy to disclaim our women … from getting the Western schooling through which we’re far behind,” he instructed Reuters. “We must always not succumb to blackmail. My recommendation to authorities is that they need to take quick precautions to cease additional abductions.”

(Reporting Afolabi Sotunde in Gusaur and Alexis Akwagyiram in Lagos; Further reporting Ardo Hazzad in Bauchi, Seun Sanni in Gusau, Hamza Ibrahim in Kano, Felix Onuah in Abuja and Maiduguri Newsroom; Writing Alexis Akwagyiram, Raju Gopalakrishnan, Giles Elgood and Peter Graff; Modifying Philippa Fletcher and John Stonestreet)





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