Student kidnapping in Nigeria: 15 victims escape sleeping guards

More than 130 students were kidnapped.

  • Fifteen kidnap victims have escaped their kidnappers.
  • You were part of a group of more than 130 students kidnapped in May.
  • The 15 escaped while their captors slept.

Fifteen Nigerian hostages escaped their kidnappers in their sleep weeks after being among more than 130 students and teachers kidnapped from an Islamic seminary by armed men, the school’s principal told AFP on Tuesday.

On May 30, around 200 armed motorcyclists from one of the gangs known locally as bandits stormed the city of Tegina in the state of Niger and, according to the authorities, kidnapped 136 students and some teachers.

Late Saturday, 15 of the hostages slipped past bandits who were guarding them while they slept in a house in a remote village in neighboring Zamfara state, said Abubakar Alhassan, the principal of the Salihu Tanko Islamic school, where the hostages were taken.

“I can confirm that 15 of the hostages escaped their captors,” Alhassan told AFP.

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“They escaped by sneaking out of the house they were being held in after the guards forgot to lock the outside door,” he said.

The refugees, nine boys and six girls, including a seven-year-old girl, wandered through the night in the Birnin Gwari district in Kaduna state.

Beaten

The 15 had been separated from the other hostages and taken across the border to Zamfara state, where they were beaten.

“They were beaten and mentally abused in the form of insults,” said Alhassan.

“We believe their escape was a divine response to their kidnappers, who told them to ask God to come and save them if they asked to be spared the beatings and insults,” he added.

All of the refugees, including three teachers, were reunited with their families, he said, expressing hope that the others would soon be released.

On Monday, Niger State Governor Sani Bello met with the parents of kidnapped students and seminary officials in his office, where he promised to rescue their kidnapped children.

Northwest and central Nigeria are a center of criminal gangs who raid villages, steal livestock, and kill or kidnap residents to extort ransom.

The gangs have recently stepped up attacks on schools and colleges, kidnapping students to extort ransom from authorities and parents.

In February, bandits abducted 42 people, including 27 high school students, from an all-boys boarding school in the nearby city of Kagara.

The hostages were released days later after negotiations with the authorities, but it was not clear whether a ransom was paid.

The gangs maintain camps in the Rugu Forest, which stretches across the states of Zamfara, Katsina, Kaduna and Niger.

The criminals are driven by financial motives and have no ideological bias, but there are growing concerns that they are being infiltrated by jihadists from the northeast who are waging a 12-year riot.

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