March 02, 2021 – 23:28
Some of the nearly 300 girls who were abducted from a school in northwestern Nigeria have described their ordeal following their release.
“Most of us were injured,” a schoolgirl told the BBC, adding that gunmen had threatened to shoot them.
The girls were abducted by unidentified assailants from their boarding school in Jangebe, Zamfara state, on Friday and taken to a forest, police said.
The state governor said Tuesday that 279 girls had been released.
Meanwhile as the BBC points out, such kidnappings are carried out for ransom and are common in the north of the country.
Meanwhile on Tuesday, dozens of girls were seen gathered at a government building in Zamfara after being taken there by a fleet of minibuses.
One of the schoolgirls said some of those who had been abducted found it difficult to continue walking when instructed to do so by gunmen because of their injuries.
“They said that [do] “to shoot anyone who did not keep walking,” she said. “We walked across a river and they hid us and let us sleep under bushes in a forest.”
Another of the girls, 15, said some of her classmates found it difficult to “walk on rocks and thorns” and had to be carried.
“They started hitting us with guns so we could move,” she told Reuters, adding: “While they were being beaten, some of them were crying and moving at the same time.”
Some of the fathers who had arrived to see their daughters for the first time since their abduction told reporters they were “very happy” with the news of their release.
The group’s release is said to have been secured through negotiations between government officials and the kidnappers, authorities in Zamfara state told the BBC.
Local authorities said an earlier figure provided by police of 317 for the number of abducted girls was incorrect.
An official told Reuters the discrepancy was due to the fact that some girls had fled immediately after being abducted.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said he was “very happy” with the news of the girls’ release.
“[Unë jam] “I am pleased that their ordeal has come to a happy ending without any incident,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Governor of Zamfara state, Bello Matawalle, wrote on Twitter that “he is very happy to announce the release of the abducted students”.
Mr Matawalle has denied paying for the girls to be released, but last week President Buhari acknowledged that state governments had paid the kidnappers “with money and vehicles” in the past and urged them to reconsider the practice. / express