More than 340 boys who were abducted Dec. 11 from their school in northwest Nigeria, have been released and are safe, multiple news outlets report.
The boys, who are students at the Government Science Secondary School in the town of Kankara, were abducted when armed men on motorcycles arrived and reportedly exchanged gunfire with local security forces before marching students into the forest. Although the government blamed the kidnapping on a group of local bandits, the Boko Haram terrorist group claimed that it was responsible, raising concerns that it has expanded its turf from northeastern Nigeria.
Following last week’s attack, it was unclear exactly how many boys had been abducted, so some have questioned whether all of the boys have been released. Some observers, including the persecution watchdog group International Christian Concern, had speculated earlier this week that because most of the boys appeared to be Muslim believers, any Christians among them might be held back when the rest were released. Government officials expressed optimism, however.
“At the moment, 344 of the students have been handed over to security agents,” said Katsina state Gov. Aminu Bello Masari on state-run television Thursday night. “I think we have recovered most of the boys, if not all of them.”
Above: A group of schoolboys are escorted by Nigerian military and officials following their release.