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Freed Nigerian students reunite with families

Thursday April 08 2021
student pic
By AFP

Five of the dozens of students kidnapped from a college in northwest Nigeria were reunited with their families Wednesday, two days after having been found by the military.

The five -- three men and two women -- were among 39 students kidnapped from Federal College of Forestry Mechanization in Afaka, outside Kaduna city, by criminals last month after a fierce gunfight with soldiers.

It was the latest mass kidnapping in the country's northwest, where gangs have been increasingly abducting students for ransom, raiding villages, pillaging and stealing cattle.

The freed students were conveyed to the school from a military facility where they had undergone medical checks, where they were received by their parents and college authorities.

"We give thanks to God for saving five of the kidnapped students," said Sam Kambai, the head of the kidnapped students parents support group. "We have seen them, they are safe."

Kambai said the students had informed him that those in captivity were being held in one place and were "not in anyway molested by their captors".

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On Monday, the government said five of the students had been "recovered" by the military, without providing details.

However Mohammed Usman Bello, the school provost said the students had been released on "health grounds".

"All the students are alive, all the students are together, all the students are not harmed. This is good news to us," Bello said, while welcoming those freed.

Heavily armed gangs have recently turned their focus to schools, where they kidnap students or schoolchildren for ransom -- the Afaka mass abduction was at least the fourth such attack since December.

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