Twenty-eight abducted school pupils freed in Nigeria

More than 80 children are still being held by gunmen

A mother is reunited with a Bethel Baptist High School pupil released by gunmen in Damishi, Nigeria, on Sunday. AP
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Armed kidnappers in Nigeria have released 28 of more than 120 pupils who were abducted at the start of July from the Bethel Baptist High School in the northern town of Damishi.

Church officials handed the children over to their parents at the school on Sunday.

But the Rev Israel Akanji, president of the Baptist Convention, said more than 80 other children were still being held by the gunmen.

So far 34, children kidnapped from the school on July 5 have been released or have escaped from the gunmen.

It is unclear when the other children will be released. The gunmen have reportedly demanded 500,000 naira ($1,215) for each pupil.

Mr Akanji said the church did not pay any ransom because it would not give money to criminals.

But he said the church was unable to stop families from taking any action they deemed fit to secure their children's release.

A spokesman for the Nigerian Police, Mohammed Jalige, said security troops and civilian defence forces were on a routine rescue patrol on July 12, around the forests near the village of Tsohon Gaya, when they found three exhausted children roaming in the bush.

Two other pupils escaped on July 20 when they were ordered to fetch firewood from a nearby forest. Mr Jalige said they were undergoing medical examinations.

Gunman have carried out mass abductions from schools in northern Nigeria this year, mainly seeking ransoms.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, who won an election on hopes that he would tackle Nigeria’s security challenges, has not been able to do much about growing cases of mass abductions from schools.

Updated: July 25, 2021, 8:02 PM