Authorities in Nigeria’s Zamfara state have declared a curfew and shut market activities after violence marred the return of hundreds of abducted schoolgirls to their families, a state spokesman reported on Thursday.
Chaos and gunshots flared up late on Wednesday during what should have been the joyous return of 279 schoolgirls kidnapped by gunmen from their boarding school last week.
The government secured the release of the girls on Tuesday, but they had been undergoing medical checks and treatment.
At least 3 people were shot, but it was not clear by whom. A Reuters witness saw police firing tear gas at a group of demonstrators outside the school, and soldiers shooting into the air, after impatient parents burst in and grabbed their children to take them home.
The situation was considered as “unfortunate civil disobedience” by Zamfara state spokesman Sulaiman Tunau Anka, saying the governor had imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew in the town, Jangebe, to prevent a further breach of the peace.
Anka also noted that market activities would be suspended until further notice, as authorities had uncovered “strong evidence” that these activities had aided and abetted bandits. He did not elaborate.
“The state government is poised to ensure safety of lives and properties of its citizens at all cost,” he added.
Earlier this week, President Muhammadu Buhari ordered a massive military deployment to Zamfara, banned mining and imposed a no-fly zone in the state.
The Jangebe kidnapping was the third mass school abduction in northern Nigeria since December.
The kidnappings for ransom are the latest manifestation of years of festering banditry that has rendered large swathes of northwest Nigeria lawless.