Gunmen kidnap female students in Zamfara

Tanya Simon
February 27, 2021

In December, dozens of gunmen abducted 344 schoolboys from the town of Kankara in northwest Katsina state.

According to local media reports, scores of residents incensed by the abduction stormed the streets of Jangebe, creating roadblocks and using sticks and stones to attack vehicles carrying journalists to the school and injuring a cameraman in the process.

Parents also had no faith in authorities to return their kidnapped girls, said Mohammed Usman Jangebe told Reuters by phone.

These incidents have triggered outrage as well as painful memories of the kidnapping of 276 schoolgirls by radical group Boko Haram in Chibok, in northeastern Borno state, on April 14, 2015.

An unnamed school staff member told the newspaper that the gunmen - some wearing uniforms and pretending to be security personnel - arrived at the school with pickup trucks and motorcycles around 1 a.m. on Friday (7 p.m. ET Thursday), then "broke into the students' hostels" and "forcefully evacuated" them.

"Ensuring the release of the students and holding perpetrators accountable will contribute to ending impunity. It is possible some of them managed to escape, but we are not sure", the teacher said.

Nasiru Abdullahi said his daughters, aged 10 and 13, were among the missing.

Nigeria's UNICEF representative, Peter Hawkins, called for the children's immediate release.

"This is a gross violation of children's rights and a horrific experience for children to go through - one which could have long-lasting effects on their mental health and well-being", he said.

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Rilwanu say di mood for Jangebe town at di moment na sad one as every corner na di same discussion but dem use Friday muslim prayers pray for di release of di girls.

"These attack. puts (the children) at risk of never returning to school, as they or their parents think it's too risky".

"Demands for ethnic secession should not be ignored or taken lightly", said Archbishop Augustine Obiora Akubeze of Benin City, President of the Nigerian Bishops' Conference (CBCN) in a recent statement cosigned by the general secretary of the CBCN.

Ikemesit Effiong, head of research at Lagos-based risk consultancy SBM Intelligence, said many northern governors were keen to pay to avoid protracted hostage situations attracting global outrage, which in turn gave an incentive for more abductions.

The federal government has yet to comment on the latest kidnappings.

It was the second such kidnapping in little over a week in a region increasingly targeted by militants and criminal gangs.

The armed forces have deployed there but attacks and mass kidnappings persist.

But there are concerns they are being infiltrated by jihadists who are fighting out a decade-old conflict that has killed more than 30,000 people and spread into neighbouring Niger, Chad and Cameroon.

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