Hundreds of Children, Women Kidnapped in Nigeria

Hundreds of Children, Women Kidnapped in Nigeria

On Thursday, March 7, 287 children were kidnapped from a school in the village of Kuriga in Kaduna state, Nigeria. Over 100 gunmen surrounded the school as the children were about to start their school day at around 8 a.m., according to Kuriga residents. Initially, the gunmen abducted 312 students—187 secondary school students and 125 primary school students. But 25 students were able to escape.

Ubi Sani, governor of Kaduna state, said that one person was killed during the raid. He said that security forces were “working round the clock” to find the children. “We will ensure that every child will come back. We are working with the security agencies,” he said.

Some village households are missing multiple children to the kidnapping. “There is no peace or peace of mind in this family,” said parent Shehu Lawal, whose child is missing. “None in the village. We hardly eat or sleep. We only come home in daytime and find a safer place to stay the night. That’s our lives since the abduction.”

The kidnapping in Kuriga is one of three mass abductions in one week in Nigeria.

On March 1, around 200 people, mostly women and children displaced by violence in Northwestern Nigeria, were kidnapped in Borno State by Boko Haram militants.

And early in the morning of March 9, gunmen abducted 15 children as they slept from a school in Sokoto, Nigeria. The children were aged between 8 and 14. One woman was also kidnapped.

Since the mass kidnapping of 276 girls in Chibok in 2014, around 1,400 children have been kidnapped in the country, Al Jazeera reports. Many victims remain in their kidnappers’ hands, including nearly 100 of the girls from Chibok.

Boko Haram and the Islamic State are Muslim extremist groups that operate freely in parts of Nigeria. The name Boko Haram translates to “Western education is a sin,” and the militant group is hostile to Western ideals. Additionally, some nomadic Fulani herdsmen, also known as the Fulani militia, often ruthlessly target Christians and attack villages. Armed gangs known as bandits occupy remote forests where there is little to no government presence, and they terrorize villagers with kidnappings, raids and killings.

Many of the kidnappers target villagers, travelers, women and children, looking for steep ransom payments. The recent kidnappings have been concentrated in northwestern and central regions of Nigeria.

This comes as three U.S. senators have written a letter to Secretary of State Anthony Blinken “with deep disappointment over the State Department’s refusal to designate Nigeria as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC).” Nigeria meets all of the standards under the International Religious Freedom Act to be designated as a CPC, but was taken off of the list in 2021.

“The continued attacks show the lack of efficacy of the current Nigerian policies as well as the international policies in place to protect human rights and basic safety,” International Christian Concern said in a statement.

“For over a decade, terrorist groups, including a militia comprising assailants primarily of Fulani ethnicity, have been able to conduct violent attacks and abductions for ransom across Nigeria on an almost daily basis while eliciting a wholly inadequate response from the authorities,” said Mervyn Thomas, founder president of Christian Solidarity Worldwide.

“I have received briefings from security chiefs on the two incidents in Borno and Kaduna, and I am confident that the victims will be rescued,” Nigerian President Bola Ahmed Tinubu posted on X. “Nothing else is acceptable to me and the waiting family members of these abducted citizens. Justice will be decisively administered.”

Open Doors South Africa calls Nigeria the most violent place in the world for Christians and posted on X that on average, 11 Christians are killed in Nigeria daily. “Pray for your Nigerian family who live in the most world’s most violent place for Christians!” they posted.


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