Nigerian army rescues 17 students kidnapped in northwest Sokoto

By Thomson Reuters Mar 23, 2024 | 6:14 AM

KANO, Nigeria (Reuters) – Nigeria’s army has rescued 17 students and a woman who were kidnapped in a dawn raid by armed men two weeks ago in northwest Sokoto state, the state governor said on Saturday.

The attack at Tsangaya school on March 9 came two days after the mass abduction of schoolchildren in Kaduna, also in the north. Those students are still missing.

Sokoto Governor Ahmed Aliyu Sokoto said the Tsangaya students were freed on Friday following an operation coordinated by the army and the office of the National Security Adviser.

“All the children have been found healthy and are ready to be reunited with their parents,” he said in a statement, without giving details of the rescue operation.

The school owner Liman Abubakar Bakuso said he was travelling to Sokoto capital to bring back the students.

“No ransom was paid because I wasn’t contacted and the parents of the children were not as well on anything to do with ransom payment,” Bakuso told Reuters.

Kidnappings by criminal gangs with no ideological affiliation and demanding ransoms have become an almost daily occurrence, especially in northern Nigeria, tearing apart families and communities who have to pool savings to pay ransoms, often forcing them to sell land, cattle and grain to secure their loved ones’ release.

(Reporting by Hamza Ibrahim in Kano and Ahmed Kingimi in Maiduguri; Writing by MacDonald Dzirutwe; Editing by Mark Potter)