| 24 February 2024, Saturday |

Nigeria says 75 abducted children released amid army crackdown

A state official claimed on Monday that 75 pupils kidnapped from their school in Nigeria’s northeastern Zamfara State were released after their kidnappers were put under pressure by a military crackdown.

On Sept. 1, gunmen abducted the youngsters from the village of Kaya, the latest in a string of mass abductions from schools around the region.

Since December of last year, over 1,100 youngsters have been apprehended. Authorities said they were kidnapped for ransom by heavily armed gangs of bandits.

A spokesman for the Zamfara State governor said no ransom had been paid for the 75 children, who had been received by the governor at his headquarters. The spokesman sent reporters images of boys and girls in uniform, seated inside what looked like a meeting room. He did not say when they were freed.

Zamfara has been one of the states worst-hit in the abduction crisis. On Sept. 3, authorities ordered a phone and internet blackout there while security forces cracked down on the gangs.

Since then, the state has been largely cut off from the outside world and while rumours have circulated about what is going on, the military have given little information.

Since Sunday night, several Nigerian media outlets have reported that bandits in Zamfara had attacked a military base and killed 12 soldiers. Asked to comment, defence spokesman Major General Benjamin Sawyerr neither denied nor confirmed the reports.

“In that area, operations are still underway, and communications have been completely shut down. Our forces are building on their previous victories. At this time, information on ongoing operations will be premature “he stated

Sawyerr added in a separate statement on Sunday that the military was aware of photographs and videos circulating online purporting to depict the dumping of bodies of individuals slain in the Zamfara raid in mass graves. The photographs, he claimed, were not authentic.

“The viral photographs that are circulating have nothing to do with the ongoing operations,” he added, adding that the armed forces were acting “in strict accordance with the norms of armed conflicts.”

  • Reuters