A group of 200 children, students of an Islamic school in the city of Tegina, in the State of Niger (central Nigeria), were kidnapped this Sunday in an assault carried out by armed men aboard motorcycles, an official of the Local government to Reuters.
Wasiu Abiodun, a spokesman for the Niger State Police, explained that the assailants stormed the streets of Tegina firing indiscriminately, killing one person and seriously injuring another. Following the shooting, the men went to the SalihuTanko Islamic School to abduct the children, who, according to local Nigerian media, are between three and 14 years old.
One of the school officials, who requested anonymity, explained that some of these children were later released because they were too young to walk long distances. This information has been confirmed by the official account of the State of Niger on the social network Twitter, which numbers 11 minors released for that reason.
Nigerian official sources have explained that the police are trying to trace the route taken by the kidnappers, with the help of a military plane that flies over the region where the assault on the school took place. The deputy governor of the state, Ahmed Mohammed Ketso, confirmed in an appearance before the press on Tuesday that the authorities are trying to locate the armed men whom he defined as “bandits.”
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari also condemned the kidnapping during a briefing on Tuesday. Buhari urged security agencies to ensure the immediate release of the children.
A lucrative business
In recent years, kidnapping schoolchildren for ransom in exchange for their release has become a lucrative business for armed groups in Nigeria. Since December, more than 700 students have been kidnapped from schools and universities, especially in the north of the country, after attacks similar to the one that happened this Sunday in the city of Tegina. Nigerian official sources systematically deny reports that the authorities have paid ransoms on several occasions to obtain the release of the children. Also on this occasion, Lieutenant Governor Ketso clarified in his appearance before the press: “We do not pay ransoms to kidnappers. We are trying to negotiate so that they return safely ”.
Kidnapping of people as a means of obtaining amounts ranging from the equivalent of 15 euros to 160,000 euros had been common in Nigeria for years, especially in its northwestern region. However, the huge international impact of the 2014 kidnapping of 276 schoolgirls from Chibok secondary school in the northern state of Borno by the jihadist terrorist organization Boko Haram has had the perverse effect of animating more armed groups. to be financed through this criminal activity.