As 5 more students of Bethel Baptist School gain freedom, gunmen kill at least 20 in Sokoto attack

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Image Credits: PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images.

Four students still in captivity

While the parents of five more students of Bethel Baptist High School, Maraban Damishi, in Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna state, can heave a sigh of relief for their release, at least 20 people have been killed in Sokoto state following an attack by gunmen on a market, torching cars.

This was disclosed by the Sokoto State Special Adviser to the Police Affairs Commissioner, Idriss Gobir, on Saturday.

Gobir said that the armed bandits rode on motorcycles and shot sporadically, killing several people.

Motor bike taxis drive past Kofar Aliyu Jedo, a city gate in ancient Sokoto, northwest Nigeria on September 21, 2021. (Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP via Getty Images)

“The bandits in large numbers killed at least 20 people that we have seen and counted and set nine vehicles on fire,” he told Reuters by telephone.

Hussain Boza, a member of the Sokoto State House of Assembly blamed the attack on a lack of adequate security in the state.

A Sokoto police spokesperson confirmed the attack but could not immediately say how many people had been killed.

Parts of Sokoto, like other neighbouring states in the northwestern part of the country, are under a telecommunications blockade as part of a security operation to disrupt the operations of the armed gangs.

On Thursday, security agents rescued 187 people who had been abducted by armed gangs in Zamfara state.

Northwestern Nigeria has since last December witnessed a wave of kidnappings of school children and villagers for ransoms by bandits, disrupting everyday life for millions of citizens.

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In the meantime, five more students who were kidnapped by gunmen from a school in Nigeria three months ago have been released after ransoms were paid, the school administrator said.

About 150 students went missing after armed men raided the school in Kaduna state in Nigeria’s northwest in July, the 10th mass school kidnapping since December.

The bandits have been releasing the students in batches after getting ransom payments.

Reverend John Hayab, the administrator of the Bethel Baptist High School, said after the latest release, four students remained in captivity and the school was working to ensure they were freed soon.

“No student was released for free,” he told Reuters late on Friday. He declined to say how much was paid.

Such kidnappings at schools in Nigeria were first carried out by jihadist group Boko Haram, and later its offshoot Islamic State West Africa Province, but the tactic has since been adopted by criminal gangs seeking ransom, according to authorities.

(with Reuters reports)

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