Nigerian schoolgirls escape kidnappers in northwest

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Nigerian schoolgirls escape kidnappers in northwest – Eight Nigerian schoolgirls have escaped from kidnappers in northwest Kaduna State two weeks after they were abducted on their way to school, a government official said.
The students of Government Secondary School Awon in Kachia district were seized on April 3 in the latest abduction of pupils in the region, Samuel Aruwan, Kaduna state internal affairs commissioner said in a statement late Tuesday.
Abductions for ransom and intercommunal attacks have been on the rise again especially in northwest Nigeria after a lull during elections in February and March for the presidency and governorship posts.
The government has recently also lifted restrictions on cash bank notes put in place as part of a cash exchange policy intended partly it said to curb ransom payment to kidnappers.
“The eight female students… have escaped from the terrorists’ den,” Aruwan said, without giving their ages.
Nigeria’s government last year branded criminal militia gangs as terrorist organizations in part to facilitate military action against them.
Aruwan had initially said 10 students of the school which runs day classes were taken before revising the number to eight.
All the hostages escaped from “a thick forest” on the border between Kaduna and central Niger State and walked for several days before reaching a location where they were given shelter, said Aruwan.
The students were taken for medical checks before being reunited with their families, while soldiers combed the forest for the abductors, he added.
Gunmen killed 33 people over the weekend in an attack on another farming village in Kaduna state, where intercommunal herder-farmer violence often flares.
The assailants stormed a village in Zangon Kataf district on Saturday, opening fire on residents and torching homes as people tried to flee, a local government official said.
Insecurity will be a major challenges for President-elect Bola Tinubu, the ruling APC party candidate who won a presidential ballot in February marred by technical problems and opposition claims of vote-rigging.
Kaduna is one of several states in northwest and central Nigeria terrorized by gangs who raid villages, kill and abduct residents, loot and burn homes.
Hundreds of students have been kidnapped in the regions over the last two years.
Almost all were released after their families made ransom payments.
There has been concern among officials and analysts about growing ties between bandits motivated by money and jihadists waging a 14-year old armed rebellion in Nigeria’s northeast.
Last year Kaduna state governor Malam Nasir El-Rufa’i warned that Ansaru and Boko Haram jihadist groups were setting up camps in the state’s Birnin Gwari district from their traditional northeast stronghold.


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