Nigerian boys caught in kidnapping claimed by Boko Haram returned

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More than 300 schoolchildren kidnapped by gunmen from their boarding school in northwest Nigeria last Friday were handed over to government security agencies on Thursday evening, Nigerian officials said, sparking outpourings of relief and joy in the country’s most populated in Africa after fearing to become long-term hostages. jihadist activists.

Shortly after 8 p.m. Thursday, Aminu Bello Masari, the governor of Katsina state, announced in a television interview that 344 of the boys had been turned over to state authorities in the forest of neighboring Zamfara state, in over one hundred miles from their school in Katsina State.

The freed hostages would be taken to Katsina for immediate medical attention and would likely arrive around midnight, he said.
Other local officials said the boys would meet with President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday.

The jihadist group Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the kidnapping, saying on Tuesday it had seized students of the Kankara government’s high school science school to punish them for “un-Islamic practices.”

Hours before the governor’s announcement Thursday, Boko Haram released a video that purported to show dozens of schoolchildren. In the grainy six-minute video, the hostages said some of their classmates had died while in captivity and begged the government to negotiate their release.

Many details surrounding the kidnapping, in a remote agricultural area with poor communication, remain unclear, including the actual tally of the number of schoolchildren taken away.

Neither Mr. Masari nor the other state governors who hailed the release have offered details of the deal to secure their release.

Teenage girls Binta Umma and Maimuna Musa were abducted by Boko Haram in Madagali, Nigeria, in 2016. They were forced to marry and sent to die on a suicide mission. In this video, the girls tell the story of their survival. Photo by Jonathan Torgovnik for The Wall Street Journal (originally published July 26, 2019)

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Write to Joe Parkinson at [email protected]

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