Dec 17, 2020 - World

More than 300 Nigerian boys kidnapped by Boko Haram returned

People in Katsina, Nigeria, urging authorities to rescue hundreds of abducted schoolboys Dec. 17.
People in Katsina, Nigeria, urging authorities to rescue hundreds of abducted schoolboys on Dec. 17. Photo: Kola Sulamimon/AFP via Getty Images

More than 300 Nigerian schoolboys captured by Boko Haram nearly a week ago were handed over to government security agencies on Thursday, the Wall Street Journal reports, citing the Katsina state governor.

Why it matters: Their release puts to rests fears that the boys would become long-term hostages of the Jihadist group and prompted outpourings of relief across Nigeria.

The state of play: Over 800 students were present at the Government Science Secondary School, Kankara, when it was attacked on December 11.

  • A man claiming to be a leader in Nigeria’s Boko Haram claimed in an unverified audio message released 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.
  • Boko Haram has 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.

The big picture: Gov. Aminu Bello Masari announced in a televised address that 344 of the boys had been handed to authorities in neighboring Zamfara state, more than 100 miles from their school in Katsina state, according to the Journal.

  • Masari added that the liberated boys would be taken to Katsina for immediate medical attention. He and other state governors did not offer details of the deal that secured the boys' release.

What's next: The government plans to coordinate with “the police and also to engage private security firms to safeguard schools” to avoid the “ugly experience of the last six days,” Masari said, per AP.

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