KANKARA, 19 December 2020 – At least 300 students who were kidnapped last week from a government boys-only boarding secondary school in Kankara have been released.
“Parents sobbed, mobbed their children in hugs and even kissed the ground in gratitude on Friday as they reunited with scores of schoolboys,” wrote Afolabi Sotunde for Reuters.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari took to Twitter to celebrate the release.
“This is huge relief to the entire country and international community,” Buhari wrote on Twitter.
A total of 344 “dusty and dazed looking children” were released Friday, Reuters reported.
The students were handed over to security forces.
They were expected to have medical examinations before being reunited with their parents/families, but pressure from parents accelerated the process, often bypassing the medical examinations.
Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the kidnappings and released a video that showed some of the abducted boys.
These latest abductions by Boko Haram have added to concern and anger that the Nigerian government cannot curb the insecurity and violence that has gripped the country since security forces first launched their campaign to defeat the insurgents 11 years ago.
President Buhari was under immense pressure to free the boys who were taken hostages in Kankara, which happens to be in Buhari’s native state of Katsina.
Authorities said security forces who rescued the students on Thursday acted on “credible intelligence” in organizing the operation which freed all 344 kidnapped boys.
Many details of the operation remain unclear and it is also unclear if ransom was paid to secure the release of the boys.
The Kankara kidnapping involved the largest number of students since the abduction by Boko Haram in 2014 of 270 schoolgirls from all-girls boarding secondary school in the northeastern Nigerian town of Chibok.