The Star (Jamaica)

Hostages being used as human shields in Nigeria

- MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (AP):

Dozens of passengers kidnapped five weeks ago from a train near Nigeria’s capital are being used as human shields by their abductors, President Muhammadu Buhari said.

More than 100 travellers were kidnapped in late March in Nigeria’s troubled northern region when a passenger train was halted by an explosion and then attacked by gunmen who killed eight people on board.

The kidnappers “are using civilians as human shields, thereby making it difficult to confront them directly”, Buhari said in Abuja, the nation’s capital, on Monday. “They don’t care about killing their hostages if they come under attack.”

The Nigerian president described the situation as a “delicate” one that requires wisdom and patience. Buhari was speaking at his offices to some residents of the capital and he appeared to be responding to distraught families who have been demanding that their loved ones be freed.

“Any rescue operation that results in the death of any hostage cannot be deemed a success,” he said, insisting that his aim is “to see all those in captivity safely rescued.”

The passengers were kidnapped by an armed gang, one of several that have been terrorisin­g remote communitie­s in northweste­rn and central Nigeria.

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