Gunmen release 27 teenage boys who were kidnapped from boarding school in Nigeria

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Pupils kidnapped from a boarding school in Nigeria alongside members of their family and teachers have been released, an official has confirmed.

All 42 people, including 27 teenage boys, 12 of their relatives and three staff members were freed on Saturday by gunmen who had been holding them hostage since 17 February.

Niger state governor Abubakar Sani Bello tweeted to say they had “regained their freedom and been received by the Niger state government”.

Niger state kidnappings
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Officials in Niger state, central Nigeria, have confirmed the hostages have been freed

After their release, boys were seen by a witness walking with armed security through a village, some struggling to stand and asking for water.

A government official said the boys were aged between 15 and 18.

It comes a day after a separate kidnapping in Zamfara state where 317 students were taken from the Girls Science secondary school in Jangebe town.

Kidnappings for ransom by armed groups, many of whom carry guns and ride motorcycles, are common across several of Nigeria’s northern states.

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The group freed on Saturday were abducted from the Government Science secondary school in the Kagara district of Niger state at around 2am on 17 February.

After overwhelming security guards, the assailants killed one boy before kidnapping 47 people inside the school.

The 317 taken in Zamfara state on Friday are still missing.

Nigeria has seen several such attacks and kidnappings over the years, notably the mass abduction in April 2014 by jihadist group Boko Haram of 276 girls from a secondary school in Chibok, Borno state.

More than a hundred of those girls are still missing.

Niger state kidnappings
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One boy was killed during the raid on 17 February

Recent attacks have raised concerns about rising violence by armed gangs and Islamist insurgents in Nigeria.

The unrest has become a political problem for President Muhammadu Buhari, a retired general and former military ruler who has faced mounting criticism in recent months over high-profile attacks by the gangs known locally as “bandits”.

Mr Buhari replaced his long-standing military chiefs this month amid worsening violence across the country.

Violence and insecurity have compounded the economic challenges faced by citizens in Africa’s most populous country and top oil exporter, which is struggling to cope with a fall in revenue due to a slump in prices, as well as the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

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