More than 300 girls kidnapped last week by a group of armed men from their boarding school in Nigeria have been released, a local official said Tuesday, the second time in less than a week that armed men have brought kidnapped school children back to the country .
The girls were picked up on Friday from Government Girls Secondary School in the northern state of Zamfara. Nigerian officials later told Reuters that the government had negotiated her release.
“It makes my heart happy to announce the release of the kidnapped students of GGSS Jangebe from captivity,” wrote Zamfara State Governor Bello Matawalle on Twitter early Tuesday, referring to the name of her school. Mr. Matawalle did not provide details of how or when they were released.
The video, published on Twitter by the Daily Nigerian news site, showed some of the girls solemnly and silently walking past journalists while the cameras flashed. The footage showed some as barefoot while others hobbled.
In the week leading up to the girls’ abduction, more than 40 children and adults were abducted from a boarding school in the Nigerian state and became the youngest victims of the West African country’s slide into insecurity. They were released on Saturday.
The incidence of mass kidnapping of girls and boys at boarding schools in northwestern Nigeria is increasing in part because kidnapping has become a growth industry during the country’s economic crisis. Increasingly, the victims are schoolchildren – not just the rich, powerful, or famous.
Banditry, one of the many complex conflicts in Nigeria, even took place in President Muhammadu Buhari’s home state of Katsina, where more than 300 boys were kidnapped by armed men in December. They were also later released.
The Katsina episode commemorated the country’s most notorious kidnapping, the 2014 kidnapping of 276 school girls by the Islamist extremist group Boko Haram in the northeastern state of Borno.
Last week, Mr Buhari blamed state and local governments for the recent surge in kidnappings and urged them to improve security in schools.
The girls who were rescued this week were abducted from a school in Jangebe City. Mr Matawalle referred to her as #JangebeGirls on Twitter.
“I urge all well-meaning Nigerians to rejoice with us as our daughters are now safe,” he wrote.
Ruth Maclean contributed to the coverage.