A spokesperson for the governor of Katsina State, Nigeria reported the release of 344 boys abducted by an armed group last Friday (December 11) in an attack at the Government Science Secondary School Kankara.
Abdu Labaran spoke on behalf of Governor Aminu Bello Masari, said Nigerian military forces conducted a rescue mission late Thursday (December 17) and that the boys were freed. Labaran also stated that the group was not Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram, but that the bandits just masqueraded as the group.
CNN stated that it has not been able to independently verify the official’s claim.
Reuters confirmed the return of the boys in a report. One of the rescued boys told Nigeria’s Arise news outlet, “They beat us morning, every night. We suffered a lot. They only gave us food once a day and water twice a day.”
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari acknowledged the news on Twitter in a post saying, “This is a huge relief to the entire country and international community.”
Co-founder of the #BringBackOurGirls movement and former Nigerian education minister, Obiageli Ezekwesili said she was “surprised” another kidnapping happened on the government’s watch. In 2014, 276 girls from Chibok were abducted by Boko Haram. Four years later, a faction of the same extremist group known as ISWAP kidnapped 100 girls in Dapchi. Negotiations led to the release of all but one of the girls taken in 2018 by ISWAP.
“For me, whatever it is that happened on the ground, is a testimony to the fact that governance is ineffectual,” Ezekwesili said on CNN’s Connect the World on Tuesday (December 15).
President Buhari has asked for patience from citizens in the wake of the latest abduction. “Our administration is fully aware of the responsibility we have to protect the lives and property of all Nigerians,” he said. “I ask Nigerians to be patient and fair to us as we deal with the challenges of security, the economy, and corruption. We will not relent.”
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