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UPDATE 2-Violence erupts as kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls return to families

GlobalMar 03, 2021 22:00
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© Reuters.

(Recasts, add details)
By Afolabi Sotunde and Seun Sanni
JANGEBE, Nigeria, March 3 (Reuters) - One moment, Hadiza was
weeping and flinging her arms around her father for the first
time since her abduction; the next - gunfire and tear gas filled
the air and people ran for cover.
It was supposed to be a joyous reunion to end the five-day
ordeal of 279 girls kidnapped last week from the Jangebe
Government Girls Science Secondary School in a remote corner of
northwest Nigeria.
Cheering children had lined the street as buses brought the
girls, grinning and waving, back to their school from the
Zamfara state capital Gusau, where they had been cared for since
their release on Tuesday. "Thank you! Thank you!" yelled one.
Relatives crammed around the buses, and parents laughed with
joy as they found their daughters, who shouted "Thank God!".
Less than 40 minutes later, pandemonium broke out.
As government officials in a hall were giving lengthy
speeches in front of the girls, impatient parents burst in and
grabbed their children to take them home.
The officials ran out and shortly afterwards, reporters
heard gunshots outside the school gates.
They saw police firing tear gas at a group of protesters
outside the school, and soldiers shooting into the air.
At least three people were hit by bullets, but it was not
immediately clear by whom.
A Reuters journalist's video showed hundreds of people
fleeing down a side street. Two girls grabbed hands, ducked -
and then ran as the soldiers fired.
Elsewhere, people threw rocks at government officials' and
reporters' cars hurriedly leaving town.

LAWLESSNESS
The chaos drives home the desperation of the situation in
northwest Nigeria, where banditry has festered for years,
rendering large swathes of the region lawless.
The trend of kidnapping children from boarding schools was
started by the jihadist group Boko Haram, which abducted 270
schoolgirls from the northeast in 2014, around 100 of whom have
never been found.
It has since been taken up by armed criminal gangs seeking a
ransom; the Jangebe abduction was the third mass school
kidnapping in northern Nigeria since December.

Military and police attempts to tackle the gangs have had
little success, while many worry that state authorities such as
Zamfara's are making the situation worse by letting kidnappers
go unpunished, paying them off or, as in Zamfara, giving them
amenities.
President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday called for the captors
to be brought to justice.
His national security adviser, Babagana Monguno, said the
president had ordered a massive military deployment to Zamfara,
banned mining and imposed a no-fly zone in the state.
He said the central government "will not allow this country
to drift into state failure", adding: "We are not going to be
blackmailed."

UPDATE 2-Violence erupts as kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls return to families
 

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