Three days after the violent kidnap of more than 80 students, a majority of them girls, and five teachers at the Federal Government College, Birnin Yauri, Kebbi State, in northwest Nigeria, federal troops late Saturday night were believed to have rescued the rest of the kidnapped victims.
The troops, THISDAY gathered, were able to rescue the students and their teachers after closing in on the bandits and killings scores of them, before the rest abandoned their hideouts, leaving the victims behind.
Speculation, however, became rife over the alleged rescue of the students and their teachers, even though details were still unclear as to how the troops ultimately pulled off the rescue operations.
Although a day after the raid by the bandits, the military too had moved swiftly, rescuing five students and two teachers, while announcing that one of the students, a female, had died in the forest.
Nigerian army spokesperson, Onyema Nwachukwu confirmed that a female student was found dead in the forest by troops tracking the kidnappers, adding that those who were rescued were freed after an exchange of fire in the early hours of Friday.
With support from the Nigerian Air Force, the troops also reportedly recovered about 800 stolen cattle from the grip of the bandits during the operation, the statement by Nwachukwu claimed.
So far, no official source could confirm the eventual rescue of the rest of the abducted students and their teachers at the time of filing this report, but a few other sources have confirmed the development, albeit without the requisite details.
One of the sources contacted early Sunday morning confirmed that the news of their alleged release had been swirling since late Saturday night, but that there was no concrete confirmation from any of the official sources as everyone seemed to have shut down.
“We heard the news but no one has the details, much less seen any of the students. But the news has been circulating amongst certain class of people, who were confident that the students had been released,” the source stated.
Bandits, on Thursday, kidnapped at least 80 students and five teachers from the Federal Government College, Birnin Yauri, Kebbi State, killing a police officer in the process.
A teacher from the school, Usman Aliyu, said the gunmen took more than 80 students, most of them girls.
“They killed one of the (police officers), broke through the gate and went straight to the students’ classes,” the teacher reportedly told Reuters, a foreign news medium.
Kebbi State police spokesman Nafiu Abubakar, confirmed that the gunmen killed one of their officers during an exchange and also shot a student, who had since been receiving medical treatment at an undisclosed hospital.
The Kebbi State Police Command further claimed that the vehicle used to convey the kidnapped students and teachers belonged to an unnamed High Court judge in the state.
A resident, Atiku Aboki, who went to the school shortly after the gunfire stopped, said he saw a scene of panic and confusion as people searched for their children.
“When we got there, we saw students crying, teachers crying, everyone is sympathising with people,” he also said to Reuters.
Thursday’s kidnapping at the Federal Government College, Birnin Yauri, Kebbi, marked the third mass abduction from a school in Northwestern part of Nigeria in some weeks, with armed gangs carrying out the kidnappings for ransom. More than 800 students were believed to have been taken from their schools in the region since December.
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