Eight female secondary school students kidnapped in northwestern Nigeria have escaped their captors two weeks after being abducted on their way to school, local authorities announced Wednesday.
The students were kidnapped on April 3, said Samuel Aruwan, commissioner for internal security in Kaduna State, a region where kidnappings for ransom are common and have resumed after a lull during elections in February and March. There are eight of them, not 10 as reported at the time, he said.
Before the general elections in late February, the government introduced new banknotes, saying it wanted to reduce the informal economy, corruption and ransom payments to kidnappers. But at the end of March, it put old notes back into circulation after a major union threatened a strike over the shortage of notes.
“The eight abducted public secondary school students…escaped from the terrorists’ hideout” located in a “dense forest” and walked for several days before they could be rescued, Aruwan said in a statement. They were examined by doctors before being reunited with their families, he added, adding that the army was combing the forest to find the kidnappers.
Also in Kaduna State, 33 people were killed at the weekend when gunmen attacked a village in Zangon Kataf district, opening fire on fleeing residents and setting fire to houses, a local government official said.
Kaduna is one of many states in northwestern and central Nigeria terrorized by armed gangs – known locally as “bandits” – who attack villages, kill residents and kidnap for ransom. Hundreds of students have been kidnapped in recent years in these regions.
The hostages, also ordinary travelers kidnapped on the roads, are usually released after a ransom is paid by their relatives. But those whose ransoms are not paid are killed and their bodies dumped in a vast forest used as a hideout by bandits, straddling Kaduna, Katsina, Zamfara and Niger states.