TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE
Hundreds of girls abducted from their school in northwestern Nigeria last week have been released, a government official said Tuesday.
“The girls have been released,” Zamfara State Commissioner for Security and Home Affairs Abubakar Dauran told dpa, referring to 317 children who had been kidnapped on Feb. 26 by unidentified gunmen in the town of Jangebe.
Thirty-eight of the kidnapped girls, however, still seemed to be missing on Tuesday, according to Zamfara State governor Bello Matawalle.
The governor said 279 girls had been freed and were in safety.
“This news bring overwhelming joy. I am pleased that their ordeal has come to a happy end without any incident,” President Muhammadu Buhari said on Twitter, promising government would focus on preventing such crimes in the future.
But the president also criticized local governments for paying ransom to release abductees and asked them to improve security instead.
“State Governments must review their policy of rewarding bandits with money and vehicles. Such a policy has the potential to backfire with disastrous consequences.” Buhari said in his post.
There has been a sharp increase in kidnappings by armed gangs in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, in past months.
In mid-February, at least 44 people, most of them children, were abducted from a school near the community of Kagara in west-central Niger State.
Three days earlier, unknown gunmen kidnapped some 20 people on their way home from a wedding in the same state.
Both groups and several other people who had been detained even longer, were released earlier this week.
But some 300 schoolboys, abducted in northwestern Katsina State in December, are still missing.
No group has claimed responsibility for any of the abductions. It is not known whether the government paid a ransom for the releases.