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Nigeria Kidnapping: 28 Schoolchildren Escape Captors

At least 28 of the nearly 300 schoolchildren kidnapped by gunmen have escaped, Nigeria’s Kaduna state governor has told BBC News.

Nigeria’s army is leading a desperate search for the children taken in the northern town of Kuriga on Thursday.

Troops are working with police and local search teams to comb the forests within Kaduna and neighbouring states.

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The kidnapping is the biggest mass abduction from a school since 2021.

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Gangs of motorcycle-riding armed men took nearly 300 primary and secondary school children between the ages of eight and 15, school authorities and parents said.

Almost every family in the town is thought to have a child among those kidnapped.

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One pupil, believed to be 14-years-old, who had been shot by the gunmen and was being treated in hospital, has since died.

The kidnappings followed women and children taken from a remote town in Borno state the day before.

Kaduna state governor Uba Sani told the BBC the lack of boots on the ground was the main reason for increased kidnappings in the area.

Parents and relatives of the abducted children have formed vigilante groups and are seeking help from neighbouring communities on the whereabouts of the children.

Nigeria’s Vice President Kashim Shettima is visiting Kaduna and is due to meet the governor.

President Bola Tinubu said on social media he was confident the victims will be rescued.

He tweeted: “Nothing else is acceptable to me and the waiting family members of these abducted citizens. Justice will be decisively administered.”

Searches are also being made in Katsina and Zamfara states.

The Kaduna mass abduction has evoked memories of the nearly 300 girls in Nigeria’s north-eastern town of Chibok in 2014.

In parts of northern Nigeria, parents are becoming weary of allowing their children to go to school over fear for their safety.

Kidnappings for ransom by armed men have become endemic in northern Nigeria, keeping thousands of children from attending school.

The last major abduction involving school children in Kaduna was in July 2021 when gunmen took more than 150 students.

The students were re-united months later after their families have paid ransoms.

In 2022, Nigeria passed a law banning ransom payments to kidnappers and imposed a 15-year jail term for making them.

It also made abduction punishable by death in cases where victims die.

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