ARCHIVE – The classrooms at Salihu Tanko Islamic School, where students were abducted in May 2021. More than 100 kidnapped students are now free again. Photo: Mustapha Gimba / AP / dpa
The director of the Islamic Salihu Tanko Islamiyya School in the city of Tegina in the north-western state of Niger, Umar Idris, told the DPA news agency on Friday.
It was initially unclear whether the students were released on Thursday evening or whether they were released after the ransom was paid.
A total of 136 girls and boys were kidnapped from school in May. A handful of the students, the youngest of whom are three years old, died in captivity, according to school authorities, while another 16 were able to escape, Idris said.
Major child abductions related to school robberies are common in Africa’s most populous country. Behind it are both Islamist terrorist groups such as Boko Haram and criminal gangs who want to extort ransom. The most spectacular case occurred in 2014 when the Islamist terrorist militia Boko Haram kidnapped 276 schoolgirls.
Since the beginning of the year, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of abducted people. Authorities estimate that around 1,000 children have been kidnapped since December 2020. Many of the boys and girls have disappeared without a trace.