Nigerian army rescues kidnapped students

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March 25 (UPI) -- The Nigerian army has rescued more than 130 staff and students who were kidnapped from their school in northern Kaduna State earlier this month, officials and authorities said.

Maj. Gen. Edward Buba, director of Defense media operations, told local media in a statement, that the 137 kidnapped victims were rescued by the military in an early Sunday search-and-rescue operation in Zamfara State.

The students were among the 287 who were kidnapped March 7 from the LEA Primary School and the Government Secondary School Kuriga in the town of Kuriga. The kidnappers had demanded a ransom of $690,000 for their release.

Buba identified those rescued as 76 females and 61 males.

He said they would be handed over to the Kaduna State government.

Sen. Uba Sani, the executive governor of Kaduna State, published video of the students whom he visited Sunday evening. He said they will formally be handed over to the state on Monday when they will be hosted to a dinner. They will continue to undergo psychosocial counseling and remain under medical supervision, he said.

"In the name of Allah the Beneficent, the Most Merciful, I wish to announce that our Kuriga school children have been released," he said in a statement.

I am glad to see our released Kuriga children in high spirit on Sunday evening when I visited them. They will be formally handed over to me on Monday afternoon after which they will be hosted to dinner at the Sir Kashim Ibrahim House, Kaduna.

They will continue to undergo...— Senator Uba Sani (@ubasanius) March 24, 2024

President Bola Ahmed Tibubu of Nigeria also issued a statement welcoming the rescue of the students.

"I once again assure Nigerians that my administration is deploying detained strategies to ensure that our schools remain safe sanctuaries of learning, not lairs for wanton abductions," he said.

According to Human Rights Watch, mass kidnappings have become a problem across northern regions of the West African nation since Boko Haram abducted 276 school girls in 2014.

In late February, more than 200 internally displaced people, many women and children, were abducted in the Ngala Local Government Area of Borno State.