JANGEBE, 27 February 2021 – Authorities in Nigeria’s Zamfara state have closed all boarding schools in an effort to stem a spate of school abductions.
The closure was announced Friday, as security and military authorities said they had launched a vast search and rescue operation for 317 schoolgirls kidnapped from their dormitory in Jangebe village close to Chibok.
The kidnappings early Friday morning took place at the Jangebe Girls’ Government Secondary School.
The whereabouts of the girls, who are aged 12 to 16 according to enrollment records, was still unknown Saturday as large numbers of police, armed and security forces deployed to the village and surrounding towns.
Traffic into and out of Jangebe was shutdown Saturday as local residents reacted angrily to the abductions.
They banged on vehicles entering the village Saturday, including a van bringing in journalists covering the kidnappings.
Villagers told reporters that they believe the schoolgirls had been led to and are being held in captivity in the nearby Dangulbi forest.
“A co-ordinated search and rescue operation was underway Saturday, involving the deployment of both ground and aerial assets” is underway in Jangebe and surrounding towns and villages, Nigerian officials told reporters.
Two police and military helicopters are among the resources deployed in the operation.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and the United Nations condemned the abductions in separate statements.
President Muhammadu Buhari said the kidnapping are “inhumane and totally unacceptable.
The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) also condemned the abductions, calling for their safe release.
No group has claimed responsibility for the kidnappings so far, but officials blamed armed bandits.
Ever since the April 2014 kidnappings of 276 schoolgirls in Chibok by Boko Haram militants, most kidnappings in Nigeria’s northern states have tended to be the work of criminal gangs who later use their captives as bait to pocket ransom payments.
A total of 42 people including 27 students, kidnapped from a boarding school in Kagara in the north-central state of Niger ten days ago, have been freed by members of an armed gang.
“The abducted students, staff and relatives of Government Science College Kagara have regained their freedom and have been received by the Niger state government,” the Governor of Niger State Abubakar Sani Bello wrote Saturday in a tweet.
The released group is reported to have arrived in Minna, the state capital. No further details have been released as yet
One schoolboy was, unfortunately, killed in the raid on the school in Kangara.