MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (Reuters) – Five girls who were among 73 children kidnapped from a school in northwestern Nigeria have been rescued, police in Zamfara State said on Thursday, although other sources gave different details in the aftermath of the mass abduction.
Wednesday’s attack on a secondary school in the village of Kaya was the latest in a spree of raids on schools across the northwest by armed gangs seeking ransoms. More than 1,100 children and teenagers have been abducted since December.
“The ongoing search and rescue mission is yielding positive result as five abducted female students were today rescued,” Zamfara State Police said in a statement.
“The victims were medically checked at the hospital, debriefed by the police and reunited … with their families,” it said.
However, UNICEF said in a statement that 100 students aged between 14 and 19 and a teacher had been abducted, of whom 23 had managed to escape and had returned home. Two of those had sustained bullet wounds.
A teacher at the school told Reuters by telephone that after some students who had escaped were taken into account, there were still more than 90 missing. The teacher also said that two of the escaped students had been shot.
Verifying the exact details of abductions and their aftermath is difficult due to the remote locations of many of the targeted schools and the high levels of insecurity across the northwest.
Zamfara is among four states that have taken measures such as banning the sale of fuel in jerry cans and the transport of firewood by truck, in the hope of disrupting gangs who travel by motorbike and camp out in forests.
(Reporting by Camillus Eboh, Lanre Ola and Maiduguri newsroom; Writing by Estelle Shirbon; Editing by Matthew Lewis)