LAGOS, Nigeria — An official says 42 people including 27 students who were abducted two weeks ago from a school in northern Nigeria have been freed.
The chief press secretary for the Niger state governor, Mary Noel-Berje, told The Associated Press on Saturday that those released have arrived in the state capital, Minna. “We have received them,” she said.
The students, teachers and family members were abducted by gunmen from the Government Science College Kagara.
Thier release comes after 317 girls were abducted Friday morning in a separate incident by a large group of gunmen who raided the Government Secondary Jangebe School in Zamfara state in northern Nigeria.
Resident Musa Mustapha said the gunmen also attacked a nearby military camp and checkpoint, preventing soldiers from interfering while the gunmen spent several hours at the school. It was not immediately clear if there were any casualties.
Several large groups of armed men, described by the government as bandits, operate in Zamfara state and are known to kidnap for money and the release of their members from jail.
“We are angered and saddened by yet another brutal attack on schoolchildren in Nigeria,” said Peter Hawkins, UNICEF representative in the country. “This is a gross violation of children’s rights and a horrific experience for children to go through.” He called for their immediate release.
The West African nation has seen several such attacks and kidnappings over the years, notably the mass abduction in April 2014 by jihadist group Boko Haram of 276 girls from the secondary school in Chibok in Borno state. More than a hundred are still missing.
In December, 344 students were abducted from the Government Science Secondary School Kankara in Katsina State. They were eventually released.
Anietie Ewang, Nigeria researcher at Human Rights Watch, noted the recent abductions and tweeted that “Strong action is required from the authorities to turn the tide & keep schools safe.”