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Nigeria: 130 school children return home after weeks in captivity

The freed students of the LEA Primary and Secondary School Kuriga upon their arrival at the state government house in Kaduna, Nigeria, Monday, March 25, 2024   -  
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Olalekan Richard/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved


More than 130 schoolchildren rescued after more than two weeks in captivity arrived in their home state in northwestern Nigeria on Monday ahead of their anticipated reunion with their families.

The children were seized by motorcycle-riding gunmen at their school in the remote Kaduna state town of Kuriga on March 7, triggering a wide-ranging rescue operation.

They were rescued on Sunday by the military in a forest about 200 kilometers (more than 120 miles) to the north in neighboring Zamfara state.

The students, many of them below the age of 10, were brought to the Kaduna State Government House, with fresh haircuts and newly sewn clothes and footwear - their first change of clothing since their abduction.

Six of the 137 students remain in hospital, and one staff member who was abducted along with the children died in captivity, a senior military official said.

School authorities originally had told the state government that a total of 287 students were kidnapped during the attack, but

Kaduna Governor Uba Sani said only 137 people were confirmed to have been seized.

Sani refused to provide details of the rescue or whether any suspected kidnappers were arrested, saying instead that the "issue of insecurity" in the African nation should not be politicised.

"For us in Kaduna, what is more important is the security of our children," he added.

At least 1,400 students have been kidnapped from Nigerian schools since the 2014 kidnapping of 276 schoolgirls by Boko Haram militants in Borno state’s Chibok village shocked the world.

In recent years, abductions have been concentrated in the country’s conflict-battered northwestern and central regions, where dozens of armed groups often target villagers and travelers for ransom.

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