The governor of Zamfara state has said that 279 girls taken from a school are "now safe." Their abduction was the second mass school kidnapping to take place in Nigeria this year.
Hundreds of Nigerian students kidnapped from their boarding school in the northern state of Zamfara have been released, state governor Dr. Bello Matawalle said on Tuesday.
"Alhamdulillah! It gladdens my heart to announce the release of the abducted students of GGSS Jangebe from captivity," Matawalle wrote on Twitter. "This follows the scaling of several hurdles laid against our efforts. I enjoin all well-meaning Nigerians to rejoice with us as our daughters are now safe."
Local outlet Premium Times said that the girls were released at around 4 a.m. on Tuesday morning. However, it also reported that 38 of the total 317 abducted from the Government Girls Junior Secondary School in Jangebe were still missing.
Second school kidnapping in 2021
On Friday, armed gunmen kidnapped the students, aged between 12 and 17. It was the second school kidnapping to take place in Nigeria this year, coming just a week after bandits raided a school in the north-central state of Niger and abducted over 40 people.
On Saturday, gunmen released 27 of the teenage boys who were kidnapped from their school on February 17.
Several large groups of armed men operate in Zamfara state, and are known to kidnap for ransom and to push for the release of their members from jail.
The Nigerian government has repeatedly denied paying ransoms, but President Muhammadu Buhari issued a statement on Friday in which he urged state governments "to review their policy of rewarding bandits with money and vehicles, warning that the policy might boomerang disastrously."
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres strongly condemned the abductions last week, calling for the "immediate and unconditional release" of the students. He also called attacks on schools a grave violation of human rights.
Nigeria has seen several such attacks and kidnappings over the years, most notably in the mass abduction in April 2014 by jihadist group Boko Haram, of 276 girls from a school in Borno state. More than a hundred of those girls are still missing.
(AFP, AP, Reuters)