Nigeria: Hundreds of schoolboys return home after being ‘kidnapped by Boko Haram’

More than 300 Nigerian schoolboys who were kidnapped last week have returned home to celebrations of their release.

The youngsters were abducted on 11 December from the all-boys Government Science Secondary School in Kankara village in Katsina state in north-western Nigeria.

They were welcomed back to Katsina on Friday and met with governor Aminu Bello Masari.

The boys, who were visibly exhausted, sat in chairs in a conference room, mostly still in their school uniforms.

The eldest sat in the front row of seats and were greeted by local officials.

Mr Masari confirmed the boys had been released on Thursday evening, adding that no ransom had been paid.

“I think we can say… we have recovered most of the boys, if not all of them,” he said.

The group will now get medical checks before being reunited with their families.

Boko Haram, a Nigerian jihadist rebel group, says it was behind the abduction, with leader Abubakar Shekau saying the reason they attacked the school was because they believed that Western education is un-Islamic.

More than 800 pupils had been in the school at the time of the attack and while hundreds escaped, around 330 of them were taken away.

The government had previously said it was negotiating with the group, which it had earlier dubbed as bandits.

It is thought that local gangs carried out the attacks with the support of Boko Haram, according to experts.

Armed bandits, who often kidnap for ransom, have killed more than 1,100 people since the beginning of the year in the region, says Amnesty International.

In April 2014, Boko Haram kidnapped more than 270 school girls in the north-eastern state of Borno. Around 100 of the girls are still missing with many of them presumed to be dead.

Some of the girls were released while others were married off to Boko Haram soldiers.

In 2018, after Boko Haram brought back nearly all of the 110 girls they had kidnapped from a boarding school in Dapchi, the group warned: “Don’t ever put your daughters in school again.”

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