HomeFrontlinesAfricaOver 300 schoolgirls abducted by 'bandits' in Nigeria

Over 300 schoolgirls abducted by ‘bandits’ in Nigeria

Around 317 girls were threatened and abducted by anonymous ‘bandits’ at a school in Jangebe town of Zamfara state this Friday. Over a week, this was second such kidnapping in Nigeria’s north western part.  

Police has turned on a search and rescue operation to save the lives of these abducted girls. A similar incident took place in the Niger state last week, where 42 individuals were abducted from a boarding school and later on liberated.

Such kidnappings for money commonly happen in northern Nigeria. The latest incident is condemned by the country’s President Muhammadu Buhari stating it as “inhumane and totally unacceptable”. Also, the UNICEF (United Nations Childrens’ Fund) has highly condemned the kidnapping of girls and demanded their safe release. 

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Earlier, in 2014 some 276 schoolgirls were abducted in the north-eastern town of Chikbok by Islamist militants Boko Haram. This incident drew global attention towards menace of raids on Nigerian schools. However, criminal gangs are suspected to be indulged in the recent abduction.

Full story of recent kidnapping:

Previously, Information Commissioner for Zamfara State, Sulaiman Tanau Anka said in an interview, during a midnight attack on Jangebe Government Girls’ Secondary School, “unknown gunmen … took the girls away”.

He added, “Information available to me said they came with vehicles and moved the students, they also moved some on foot.” He also said that the search operation of security forces is being executed in that area.

After confirming this news of abduction, UNICEF’s Nigeria representative Peter Hawkins said, “We are angered and saddened and by yet another brutal attack on schoolchildren in Nigeria.”

“The Zamfara State Police Command in collaboration with the military have commenced a joint search and rescue operations with a view to rescuing the 317 students kidnapped by the armed bandits in Government Girls Science Secondary School Jangebe”, stated Muhammad Shehu, a Police spokesperson. 

Nasiru Abdullahi, a parent whose two daughters are missing after this attack, informed the reporters over telephone, “Two of my daughters aged 10 and 13 are among the about 300 girls the school authorities told us are missing.”

A report (based on the opinions of locals over this incident) stated, “The gunmen arrived shortly midnight and operated for hours in this all-girls school in Zamfar state. This is one of the states that is continuously being attacked by these gun-men, abductions for ransom and raiding for villages … this is practically one of the major things that people in the north of the country are facing on a daily basis.”

The news of this attack has “horrified” the ‘Save the Children’ NGO. The Nigerian director of this NGO, Mercy Gichuhi said, “It is unacceptable that attacks on schools and students has become a recurring scenario in Northern Nigeria. These attack … puts (the children) at risk of never returning to school, as they or their parents think it’s too dangerous.”

The rights group wrote on their twitter handle, “Nigerian authorities must take all measures to return them to safety, along with all children currently under the custody of armed groups.”

This kidnapping was “a serious violation of international humanitarian law”, said the Amnesty International Nigeria.

The Rescue Operation:

According to the Zamfara Police, the search and rescue operation has been initiated by them alongwith the military to hunt for the ‘bandits’ who abducted more than 300 girls from the Girls’ school in Nigeria.
Anka said, the ‘bandits’ attacked the school at around 1 am, shooting intermittently.

Abutu Yaro, a police commissioner at Zamfara said at a conference, “There’s information that they were moved to a neighbouring forest, and we are tracking and exercising caution.”
Seven out of the total abductees, successfully escaped the attackers by concealing in the gutters. This information was provided by Mohammed Usman Jangebe, a parent of one of the abductees.

Nigerian Police stated, “a coordinated search and rescue operation, involving the deployment of both ground and aerial assets” was under way.Deployment of two helicopters was done to the site.

Frustration and anger of Parents:

Exasperation of Nigerian Govt and grief of the families in the unruly north is a result of the increasing abductions in the area. The latest attack was the third such incident in Nigeria, since December.

Officials said, the child abductions are done to receive government payoffs in return to their safe release. President Muhammadu restated that the Government won’t surrender to blackmail and refused making any such payouts. Also, he requested the state governments not to give any money or vehicles to these attackers. 

People gathered together to block security operatives, government authorities and journalists from approaching the main town. The families showed no confidence in the Govt authorities to return their girls, said Mohammed Usman Jangebe in an interview.

Jangebe said, “We are going to rescue our children, since the government isn’t ready to give them protection. All of us that have had our children abducted have agreed to follow them into the forest. We will not listen to anyone now until we rescue our children.”

The Previous Attacks:

Prior to this incident, unknown assailants gunned down a student in a midnight raid on a Boarding school in the Niger state. Around 42 people who were abducted, consisted of 27 students. The abductees have been released, informed Mallam Saidu, the vice-principal of the school.
In December, over 300 boys were abducted from a school in Kankara, Katsina (which is the home-state of President Muhammadu Buhari, while he was on a visit to this area). Although, the boys were released after a deal with the Govt officials, yet this incident created indignation around the world.

Stuti Tripathi
I have keen interest in scientific discoveries and technological advancements. I'm always curious to learn more and more about our galaxies and typically love to read about astronomy.