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Security forces have successfully rescued 14 students following their abduction from a university in Nigeria’s Zamfara state.
The Federal University Gusau in Bungudu district fell prey to gunmen last week, leading to the kidnapping of several students and staff, marking the first mass school abduction since President Bola Tinubu began his term in May.
Monday’s statement from the university, while not diving into the specifics of the rescue, confirmed the release of 14 students and two others. The university communicated the impact of this event, expressing that it has thrown them into “serious tension and apprehension.” They acknowledged the ongoing efforts of the security forces to retrieve the remaining students and revealed plans to augment campus security.
School abductions are not rare in Nigeria’s northwestern and central parts, where individuals are often taken for ransom, feeding into the captors’ operations. The country’s military, already engaged with groups like Boko Haram, finds it challenging to combat local kidnapping gangs or “bandits.” These bandits, primarily from the Fulani ethnicity, are sometimes joined by regional pastoralists and even mercenaries from neighboring Chad and Niger.
The Centre for Democracy and Development indicates that between 2011 and 2022, this crisis resulted in approximately 12,000 deaths and displaced several more across multiple northwestern states. Zamfara, a particular focal point for these activities, has seen the emergence of numerous vigilante groups. President Tinubu, now under increased scrutiny due to security concerns, emphasized his administration’s commitment in a recent statement, vowing to make educational institutions a “sanctuary of knowledge, growth, and opportunity.”