KANO, Nigeria (AP) – Armed kidnappers in Nigeria have released 28 of the more than 120 students who were kidnapped from the Bethel Baptist High School in the northern city of Damishi in early July.
Church officials handed these children over to their parents at school on Sunday. But Rev. Israel Akanji, president of the Baptist Congregation, said more than 80 other children are being held by the armed men.
To date, 34 children kidnapped from school on July 5 have either been released or escaped from the custody of the gunmen. It is unclear when the other children will be released. The gunmen reportedly asked for 500,000 naira (about $ 1,200) for each student.
Akanji said the church did not pay a ransom because it opposed payment by criminals, but added that the church could not prevent the children’s families from taking any action it deemed appropriate to obtain their release .
A Nigerian police spokesman Mohammed Jalige said security and civil defense forces were on a routine rescue patrol in the woods near the village of Tsohon Gaya on July 12 when they found three exhausted abducted victims in the bush. Two other students escaped on July 20 when they were ordered to fetch firewood from a nearby forest. Jalige said they would have medical exams.
Gunman named Bandits carried out a spate of mass kidnappings from schools in northern Nigeria this year, mainly to extort ransom.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, who won the elections in hopes of overcoming Nigeria’s security challenges, could not do much to combat the growing cases of mass kidnappings from Nigerian schools.