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Kidnapped schoolchildren freed in Nigeria after three months

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Freed students eat breakfast at a healthcare center in Minna, the capital of Niger State, in Nigeria, on August 27, 2021. (Photo by AP)

A number of abducted children in northern Nigeria have been freed from captivity after three months and are waiting to be reunited with their families.

Abubakar Garba Alhassan, the headteacher of the schoolchildren’s school in Tegina Town, announced the news of their release on Friday, but he did not provide details, such as the number of the students or their identities.

Girls as young as five draped in long hijabs and boys wearing new clothes were carried by a minibus to Minna, the capital of Niger State. They were served meals and greeted by State Governor Abubakar Sani Bello.

The children had been abducted along with hundreds of other students by gunmen in a daylight raid on the school in late May.

The parents of the students had over the past weeks struggled to raise the ransoms demanded by the abductors by selling their cars, lands, and other properties.

Since December last year, around 1,000 students have been abducted by heavily-armed criminal gangs in different Nigerian states, with some of them having been released after negotiations with local officials or ransom payments.

President Muhammadu Buhari has advised states not to pay fees to kidnappers, saying it will only encourage more abductions. Security agencies say they are targeting the bandits through military operations.

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