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Families of kidnapped Nigerian boys fear time running out

GlobalDec 16, 2020 16:54
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* More than 300 boys kidnapped from their school last week
* Islamist militants claim responsibility, according to
* Parents fear painful saga like 2014 schoolgirls' abduction

By Afolabi Sotunde
KANKARA, Nigeria, Dec 16 (Reuters) - Families of more than
300 kidnapped Nigerian schoolboys worried they may be
brainwashed or held for years as security forces continued the
hunt on Wednesday for armed captors possibly from the jihadist
Boko Haram movement.
According to an unverified audio clip, the Islamist group -
whose name means "Western education is forbidden" - was
responsible for last week's raid on the all-boys school in
Kankara town in northwestern Katsina state. Parents fear time may be running out.
"They will radicalise our children if the government does
not act fast to help us rescue them," trader Shuaibu Kankara
recounted from his home, stopping to cry.
His 13-year-old son Annas was among those abducted from the
Government Science school on Friday night. Two other sons
managed to escape, he added, when gunmen on motorbikes stormed
the school and marched the boys into a forest. Nnamdi Obasi, senior adviser with security think tank
International Crisis Group, said the boys may have been taken
over the porous border with Niger, about an hour's drive north,
as has happened with past kidnappings in the area
"That would make the task of rescuing the boys a lot more
complicated," he said.
If Boko Haram carried out the kidnapping, that would mark an
expansion beyond its northeastern base, security experts say.
But it may have purchased the boys from criminal gangs in the
northwest with whom it has been building ties.

Numerous Nigerian soldiers and intelligence officers were
combing the Rugu forest on Friday in search of the missing
schoolboys, Abdu Labaran, an aide to Katsina's state governor,
told Reuters.
One of the largest forests in Nigeria, Rugu straddles three
states and includes woodland near the school
The mass abduction echoes Boko Haram's 2014 kidnapping of
more than 270 girls from a school in the northeastern town of
Chibok. Six years on, only about half have been found or freed.
Others were married to fighters, while some are assumed dead.
"We pray it's not going to be another situation of the
Chibok girls' abduction," said Ahmed Bakori, a farmer whose
14-year-old son Abubakar was among those taken.
Anxious authorities in four nearby states - Kano, Kaduna,
Zamfara and Jigawa - announced late on Tuesday that they would
close all their state schools.
At the Government Science compound, about two dozen parents
came on Wednesday and prayed in the school mosque. The school
compound, comprising of white single-storey buildings built on
dusty red soil, was quiet.
Abubakar Lawal, who has two children taken, said he did not
believe Boko Haram's claim and would wait with patience and
prayers. "The government has to do diplomacy in a way to rescue
these people in a good manner and to come back safely," he said,
standing outside the school building.

FACTBOX-The violence and insecurity affecting Nigeria
is Boko Haram? escaped through forest after gunmen abducted their friends
at Nigeria school ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^>

Families of kidnapped Nigerian boys fear time running out

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