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AFP
March 3, 2021

All kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls released

World

AFP
March 3, 2021

GUSAU, Nigeria: Hundreds of girls who were kidnapped from a boarding school in northwestern Nigeria last week have been freed, the local governor told AFP on Tuesday.

President Muhammadu Buhari expressed "overwhelming joy" at their release and called on the security forces to hunt down their abductors, after Nigeria reeled from its fourth mass abduction in less than three months.

"I am happy to announce that the girls are free," Bello Matawalle, governor of Zamfara state, told AFP. An AFP reporter saw hundreds of girls wearing hijabs gathered at government premises in Gusau, the state capital, where Matawalle hosted a reception for them.

Authorities initially said 317 girls were abducted when gunmen, known locally as bandits, raided the Government Girls Secondary School in remote Jangebe village on Friday. But Matawalle said "the number of those who were kidnapped is 279 and no one was missing."

"All the 279 are present," he said. He said the girls were freed with the assistance of "repentant bandits". They will be given medical care to ensure "they are well to be back to their school or to reunite with their families," Matawalle said.

The governor urged parents not to let the incident discourage their children from going to school. "I assure you that the government will provide all measures to prevent further occurrence of this incident, by the Grace of God."

One of the girls, Hafsat Umar Anka, recounted their ordeal. "We trekked all the way," she said, speaking in Hausa. "Some of us developed sore feet while others could not walk and had to be carried on the back by some of us." "They threatened to kill anyone of us who refused to stay. We were very cautious. They fed us adequately."