3 Groups of Students Freed in Nigeria in 24-Hour Period

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Authorities successful bluish Nigeria announced 3 abstracted groups of kidnapped students were freed wrong a 24-hour period, prompting speculation precocious Friday that ample ransoms had been paid to the gunmen blamed for a spate of caller abductions.

Among those present escaped are immoderate of the youngest children ever taken hostage successful Nigeria, a radical of 90 pupils who had spent 3 months successful captivity. Hours aft those youngsters were brought to the Niger authorities capital, constabulary successful Zamfara authorities said that 15 older students besides had been freed there.

Then precocious Friday, connection came of a 3rd hostage liberation successful Kaduna state. Thirty-two much of the students taken from a Baptist precocious schoolhouse successful aboriginal July besides had been freed, according to the Rev. Joseph Hayab, president of the Kaduna authorities section of the Christian Association of Nigeria.

The question of releases comes aft much than 1,000 students person been kidnapped since December, according to an AP tally. While earlier schoolhouse abductions had been blamed connected Islamic extremists successful the northeast, authorities person lone said that bandits are down the latest kidnappings for ransom.

“The happiness can’t beryllium quantified,” said Yahya Aliyu Babangida, 54, a teacher whose 2 children aged 7 and 17 were among those who had been kidnapped from the Salihu Tanko Islamic School successful Tegina successful precocious May.

Gunmen astatine archetypal kidnappers adjacent the preschoolers, lone to permission them down erstwhile they could not support gait successful the adjacent forest. Some who spent months successful captivity were conscionable 4 years old, and authorities said Friday that 1 kid had died during the ordeal. Several others were undergoing aesculapian attraction aft their merchandise precocious Thursday.

“They are exposed to this harsh weather, nary food, mosquitos everywhere,” helium said. “Some of them had ne'er been extracurricular the comfortableness of their homes.”

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News of the children’s merchandise was celebrated crossed Nigeria, wherever abductions person stepped up unit connected the authorities to bash much to unafraid acquisition facilities successful distant areas.

But questions remained Friday astir however overmuch ransom had been paid to unafraid the children’s release, and if truthful whether that could successful crook substance further abductions by the chartless equipped groups referred to locally arsenic bandits.

Muhammad Musa Kawule, 42, acknowledged paying intermediaries successful hopes of securing his 6-year-old daughter’s freedom.

“I spent a batch of wealth but today, I’m happy,” helium told The Associated Press connected Friday. He did not specify however overmuch helium had paid nor whether authorities officials had been involved.

The youngsters were aboriginal brought to the Niger authorities capital, Minna, wherever they underwent aesculapian check-ups and met the governor. Video showed scores of children arsenic young arsenic kindergartners travel retired of achromatic minibuses, the small girls wearing agelong bluish hijabs known arsenic chadors.

While Nigeria has seen scores of schoolhouse abductions for ransom, the Niger authorities kidnappings near radical aghast due to the fact that the children were truthful young. The ramifications besides could beryllium agelong lasting arsenic parents reconsider whether to nonstop their children to school.

“This has affected the morale and assurance of the radical and has adjacent made parents deliberation doubly earlier they nonstop their children to school,” Niger authorities Gov. Abubakar Sani Bello said of the children’s abduction. “We volition bash immoderate it takes to bring (the kidnappers) to justice.”

As the attacks person mounted crossed the north, determination are besides signs they are becoming much violent.

After 1 kidnapping astatine a assemblage successful Kaduna authorities earlier this year, gunmen demanded ransoms equivalent to hundreds of thousands of dollars. They killed 5 students to compel different students’ parents to rise the wealth and aboriginal released 14.

Also Friday, Zamfara authorities constabulary spokesperson Mohammed Shehu said that 15 different students had been handed implicit to officials connected Friday, 11 days aft they were abducted from the College of Agriculture and Animal Science successful Nigeria’s troubled northwest.

It was not instantly wide however they were rescued, but the students are present being looked aft by Zamfara authorities officials and volition soon beryllium reunited with their parents, authorities said.

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Larson reported from Dakar, Senegal. Associated Press journalists Ajayi Taiwo Oluwole successful Minna, Nigeria and John Shiklam successful Kaduna, Nigeria besides contributed.

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