Monday, September 20, 2021

Nigerian bandits demand ransom to release 80 more kidnapped schoolchildren

The children are part of a larger group snatched at gunpoint last month.

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Kidnappers are demanding a ransom of one million naira (US$2,425) each to release around 80 children snatched from a boarding school in northern Nigeria last month, according to a pastor involved in the negotiations for their release.

The attack on the Bethel Baptist High School in the state of Kaduna was the 10th mass school kidnapping since December in northwest Nigeria, which authorities have attributed to criminal gangs seeking ransom payments.

Reverend Ite Joseph Hayab told Reuters by telephone that the kidnappers released 28 children last month after a first batch of 28 was released two days after the raid. But another 81 remain in captivity.

Hayab said three students escaped before the 28 were released last month but they were kidnapped again by an unidentified person in the forest who demanded a ransom and was paid over one million naira by parents.

Schools have become targets for mass kidnappings for ransom in northern Nigeria by armed groups.

Such kidnappings in Nigeria were first carried out by jihadist group Boko Haram, and later its offshoot Islamic State West Africa Province, but the tactic has now been adopted by other criminal gangs purely for money.

In another mass kidnapping, this time in Niger State, the state government has given reasons for the continued captivity of the Salihu Tanko Islamiyya Tegina school girls, saying the parents of the children refused to allow the use of a military operation to rescue the girls, This Day reports.

The Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Ahmed Ibrahim Matane, stated in Minna, the state capital, on Monday that the government wanted to use the army to raid the forests where the girls are being held but their parents opposed the plan.

He said: “The government wanted to use the special security corps it launched in mid-June to confront the bandits in the forest, but the parents of the schoolgirls begged that they would not like to lose any child. They begged us to allow them to exhaust all the peaceful means to secure their children, and that’s why we halted the operation.

“You know this type of operation would end in collateral damage, as we know where these bandits are, and we are monitoring their movements.”

The authorities confirmed that it has a policy of not paying ransoms to bandits because the money paid has been used to buy more arms with which gangs terrorise ordinary citizens.

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