Rescued Children from Kaduna Receive Psychological Support After Abduction Ordeal

Rescued Children from Kaduna Receive Psychological Support After Abduction Ordeal

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Lagos, Nigeria (TAE)-In a significant operation, more than 130 children who were abducted from their school in Nigeria’s northwestern state of Kaduna over two weeks ago, have been rescued. The children are currently receiving psychological support before they will be returned to their families, according to announcements by the West African nation’s military and government officials.

The incident unfolded on March 7 when gunmen on motorcycles invaded the remote Kuriga school, leading to the abduction of students. Initial reports from school authorities to the state government indicated a total of 287 students were kidnapped. However, Kaduna Governor Uba Sani clarified in a statement to local media late Sunday that 137 young individuals were actually taken during the attack. “All of them have come back home safely,” Governor Sani stated, addressing the nation through a broadcast by Lagos-based Channels Television. Attempts to reach villagers or school authorities in Kuriga, a town lacking cellphone service, were unsuccessful.

This discrepancy in the reported numbers of abducted students highlights the challenges in Nigeria’s ongoing kidnapping crisis, including sometimes inadequate record-keeping and cases where some hostages manage to escape shortly after being taken.

Governor Sani, emphasizing the importance of the children’s safe return over exact figures, noted, “As the leader, I shouldn’t bother myself about figures. What is more important is the return of the children.”

The abductions form part of a distressing pattern of kidnappings in Nigeria, particularly affecting the country’s northwestern and central regions. Since 2014, when Boko Haram militants abducted hundreds of schoolgirls in Borno state’s Chibok village, at least 1,400 students have been kidnapped from Nigerian schools. Armed groups, often targeting villagers and travelers for ransom, have perpetrated these kidnappings.

The rescued children were found in Zamfara state, a known hotspot for such kidnappings, located over 200 kilometers (124 miles) from their school. Nigerian military spokesman Maj. Gen. Edward Buba announced their rescue, with images released by the military showing the children in their school uniforms, looking exhausted and covered in dust after their ordeal. They were welcomed by government officials and Kuriga town leaders upon their arrival at the Kaduna State Government House.

The children, described as being in “high spirits,” are receiving medical attention alongside psychological support, as per Governor Sani’s announcement.

This rescue operation comes amid increasing pressure on the Nigerian government to address the surge in mass kidnappings. President Bola Tinubu has committed to deploying strategies to ensure the safety of schools and prevent further abductions, asserting that the children would be rescued “without paying a dime” in ransom. Despite common practices of ransom payments for the release of kidnapping victims, it is rare for Nigerian officials to acknowledge such transactions.

The identity of the abductors, believed to be bandit groups known for their criminal activities in the northern region, has been suggested by locals. Experts familiar with the security situation in Nigeria’s northwest, including Murtala Ahmed Rufa’i, a professor of peace and conflict studies, and Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, a cleric who has negotiated with bandits, indicate that these groups are operating from the region’s vast and ungoverned forests. Arrests related to mass kidnappings remain rare, with victims often released following negotiations involving ransom payments or agreements with government and security officials.

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