Chaos as freed Nigerian schoolgirls reunited with families
Hundreds of Nigerian girls abducted last week from a boarding school in the country’s northwest have been returned to their families amid chaos as security forces opened fire on a gathering outside the school where the reunions were held Wednesday.
One person died and two were injured in the mayhem, according to local media reports. The forces opened fire after stones were thrown at government officials, apparently in frustration at the drawn-out procedure, said the reports.
Anxious and angry parents who were reunited with the girls after six days of waiting grabbed their daughters and left after shots rang out. Many were worried about traveling on the area’s dangerous roads at night.
The girls, aged 10 and up, had been abducted from the Government Girls Secondary School in Jangebe in Nigeria’s northwest Zamfara state and were released Tuesday after negotiations. Zamfara Gov. Bello Matawalle said that 279 girls had been freed.
Upon their release, the girls were brought to the government’s provincial offices, Government House, in Gusau for presentation, before being medically examined and reunited with their families.
Following the kidnappings, the Zamfara state government announced a curfew, which remains in force.
Officials said “bandits” were behind the abduction, referring to the groups of armed men who operate in Zamfara state and kidnap for money or to press for the release of their members from jail.
At the time of the attack, one resident told The Associated Press that the gunmen also attacked a nearby military camp and checkpoint, preventing soldiers from responding to the abductions from the school.
Nigeria has seen several such attacks and kidnappings in recent years, the most notorious in 2014, when 276 girls were abducted by the jihadist rebels of Boko Haram from the secondary school in Chibok in Borno state. More than 100 of those girls are still missing.
Last week’s attack came less than two weeks after gunmen abducted dozens of people, including 24 students, from the Government Science College Kagara in Niger State. The students, teachers and family members kidnapped from Kagara were released last week.
In December, 344 students were abducted from the Government Science Secondary School Kankara in Katsina State. They were eventually released.