Rome News-Tribune

Hundreds of school girls freed in Nigeria days after kidnapping

- By Sam Olukoya and Kristin Palitza

Hundreds of girls abducted from their school in north-western Nigeria last week have been released, a government official said on Tuesday.

“The girls have been released,” Zamfara State Commission­er for Security and Home Affairs Abubakar Dauran told dpa, referring to 317 children who had been kidnapped on Friday by unidentifi­ed gunmen in the town of Jangebe.

Thirty-eight of the kidnapped girls, however, still seemed to be missing on Tuesday, according to Zamfara State governor Bello Matawalle.

The governor said 279 girls had been freed and were in safety.

There has been a sharp increase in kidnapping­s by armed gangs in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, in past months.

In mid-february, at least 44 people, most of them children, were abducted from a school near the community of Kagara in west-central Niger State.

Three days earlier, unknown gunmen kidnapped some 20 people on their way home from a wedding in the same state.

Both groups and several other people who had been detained even longer, were released earlier this week.

But some 300 schoolboys, abducted in north-western Katsina State in December, are still missing.

No group has claimed responsibi­lity for any of the abductions. It is not known whether the government paid a ransom for the releases.

Mass abductions are common in the West African nation. They are sometimes carried out by Islamist terrorists, who force girls and women into marrying their fighters or becoming suicide bombers, and use other abductees as labourers.

Other kidnapping­s are carried out by criminal gangs for ransom.

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