The families of the many students abducted by armed men on Sunday May 30 from a private Muslim school in Nigeria called on the government to do everything to help them free the children. Authorities still had not released the exact number of abducted children as of Wednesday, but around 200 were in the Salihu Tanko school in Tegina, Niger state, at the time of the attack. According to a school official, more than 100 children were abducted, but several, aged 4 to 12, were quickly released by the kidnappers because “Too small to walk”.
“I call on the government to do everything to protect its citizens and our children above all”Sa’idu Umar, the father of one of the abducted children, told AFP: “We hope the authorities will do more to bring our children back. “ Crouching in front of the school, several mothers and other relatives awaited news of their children. Some were in tears. “So far, the authorities have done a good job, but we want them to do more”another relative, Muhammed Garba, told AFP.
The attack is the latest in a series of mass kidnappings of schoolchildren and students in recent months in Nigeria. Without counting the schoolchildren kidnapped on Sunday, at least 730 children and adolescents have already been kidnapped since December 2020. These kidnappings are carried out by armed gangs, whose members are commonly called “bandits”. For a decade, they have terrorized populations in the center-west and north-west of the country, looting villages, stealing livestock and carrying out mass kidnappings for ransom.
Authorities say they are negotiating to bring the children back safe and sound. However, they state that they refuse to pay any ransom. President Muhammadu Buhari ordered the country’s security agencies to step up their efforts to save the children. In addition to mass kidnappings, Nigeria faces immense security challenges, including a jihadist insurgency that has raged for twelve years in the northeast and has claimed more than 40,000 lives.