Dec 15, 2020 - World

Boko Haram leader claims responsibility for hundreds of abducted Nigerian students

Picture of school bags and wares from the children who were abducted in Nigeria
School bags and other items belonging to students at the Government Science school are seen on the floor where gunmen abducted students. Photo: KOLA SULAIMON/AFP via Getty Images

A man claiming to be a leader in Nigeria’s Boko Haram claimed in an unverified audio message released on Tuesday that the armed group was responsible for the kidnapping of over 330 students from an all-boys school in the northwestern state of Katsina last week, the Associated Press reports.

The big picture: Boko Haram have been terrorizing Nigeria and its neighboring countries for years. The group has carried out several mass abductions, including the kidnapping of 276 schoolgirls in the town of Chibok in 2014.

  • Boko Haram has abducted over 1,000 children, according to UNICEF.

Why it matters: There is some doubt rising over the veracity of the claim, which came from a man who identified himself as the group's leader, lacked details or any sort of proof, per CNN.

  • The kidnapping also took place outside of Boko Haram's usual area of activity as they generally focus on the northeast side of the country.

Details: Although the message claimed that Boko Haram targeted the school because of the group's goal to stop "western" education in Nigeria, a government official told CNN that the kidnappers had been in touch with a teacher of the school, raising the prospect of a ransom negotiation.

  • More than 337 students are missing, but government officials said the number for how many were kidnapped remains unclear as some children ran away during the attack and others escaped to their villages and found their way back to the school over the weekend, CNN reports.
  • On Friday, a large number of attackers riding motorcycles attacked the school. Some of the students managed to escaped, but those captured were split into groups and taken into the surrounding forests, per Al Jazeera.
Go deeper