LAGOS, Nigeria — Rebels from the Boko Haram extremist group claimed duty Tuesday for abducting a whole bunch of boys from a college in Nigeria’s northern Katsina State final week in one of many largest such assaults in years, elevating fears of a rising wave of violence within the area.
Greater than 330 college students stay lacking from the Authorities Science Secondary Faculty in Kankara after gunmen with assault rifles attacked their college Friday evening, though scores of others managed to flee.
The federal government and the attackers are negotiating the destiny of the boys, in response to Garba Shehu, a spokesman for Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari.
“The abductors had made contact and discussions had been already on, pertaining to the protection and return” of the youngsters to their houses, mentioned Shehu on Twitter throughout talks with Katsina Gov. Aminu Masari. Neither official mentioned whether or not the negotiations are with Boko Haram or one other group.
Masari mentioned safety companies “deployed for rescue operations have additionally knowledgeable us that they’ve situated their place.”
The Every day Nigerian mentioned it obtained an audio message from Boko Haram chief Abubakar Shekau claiming the kidnapping, though there was no unbiased verification of its authenticity.
The Islamic extremist group has carried out mass abduction of scholars earlier than. Essentially the most critical occurred in April 2014, when greater than 270 schoolgirls had been taken from their dormitory on the Authorities Secondary Faculty in Chibok in northeastern Borno State. About 100 of the women are nonetheless lacking.
In February 2014, 59 boys had been killed throughout a Boko Haram assault on the Federal Authorities Faculty Buni Yadi in Yobe State.
Within the audio message about Friday’s assault, Shekau mentioned his group kidnapped the schoolboys as a result of Western schooling is towards the tenets of Islam.
Greater than 600 college students attend the college. Many had been capable of escape throughout a gunfight between the attackers and the police, in response to state police spokesman Gambo Isah.
College students corroborated this account with varied information companies, saying a lot of them had been additionally rounded up and compelled to stroll to a close-by forest, the place some had been additionally capable of flee.
A number of armed teams function in northern Nigeria, the place Katsina State is situated. It was initially believed that the attackers had been bandits, who typically work with Boko Haram.
Bandits have operated within the northwest area for a while, and kidnappings have elevated in recent times. Amnesty Worldwide says that greater than 1,100 individuals had been killed within the first six months of 2020 in violence associated to assaults by bandits.
A joint rescue operation was launched Saturday by Nigeria’s police, air drive and military after the army engaged in gunfights with bandits after finding their hideout within the Zango/Paula forest.
If Boko Haram is confirmed to be behind the kidnapping, it might imply a brand new wave of spiritual extremism is on the rise in Nigeria. For greater than 10 years, the group has engaged in a bloody marketing campaign for introducing strict Islamic rule, nevertheless it has been primarily lively in northeast Nigeria, not within the northwest, the place Katsina State is situated. Hundreds have been killed and greater than one million individuals displaced by the violence.
Nnamdi Obasi of the Worldwide Disaster Group mentioned a shift of Boko Haram’s actions to the northwest would have critical safety implications as a result of it might associate with different armed legal teams recognized to hold out assaults and accumulate funds from households and markets.
“They’re Iike mini-armies which might be capable of perform operations in defiance of the safety forces, and it’s worrisome,” Obasi advised The Related Press.
The native armed teams haven’t any non secular ideology, nevertheless, and Obasi mentioned Boko Haram’s motion into the northwest would create “a threat of convergence between legal teams and jihadist teams. The trajectories are very disturbing.”
As a result of the northwest is extra homogeneously Islam than the northeast, there are extra potential recruits for radicalism.
Friday’s abduction has grow to be a rallying cry for Nigerians fed up with rising violence, with #BringBackOurBoys trending on Twitter as individuals specific their frustrations. An analogous #BringBackOurGirls grew to become a world rallying cry for the Chibok women.
“Prior to now, it has been bandits and kidnappers terrorizing our state, however little has been accomplished to handle the scenario,” mentioned Mallam Saidu Funtua, a member of an area civil society group in Katsina State.
He added that “the kidnapping of scholars was the peak of all of it. It’s unacceptable and the federal government has to do extra” to guard college students and residents.
The assault was a significant setback for schooling in Katsina, which was starting to make progress in enrollment, he mentioned, including: “Our individuals shall be discouraged in sending their children to highschool.”
Kankara villager Lawal Muhammed mentioned the assault left most residents terrified and traumatized.
“We have now by no means skilled this sort of factor earlier than,” he mentioned. “We would like the federal government to do extra in defending our kids, particularly now that colleges could be resuming after the COVID-19 break.”
The abductions additionally come as Boko Haram and the Nigerian army could also be investigated for conflict crimes within the rebels’ insurgency, which has lasted greater than a decade.
The Worldwide Legal Courtroom’s chief prosecutor final week mentioned a probe has discovered sufficient proof to advantage opening a full-scale inquiry into allegations of conflict crimes and crimes towards humanity by Boko Haram extremists in addition to into prices that Nigerian authorities forces have additionally perpetrated abuses.
Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda mentioned there’s a “affordable foundation to imagine” Boko Haram and splinter teams linked to it dedicated crimes together with homicide, rape, sexual slavery and torture, in addition to deliberately concentrating on colleges and locations of worship and utilizing baby troopers. Whereas a overwhelming majority of the criminality within the battle has been carried out by Boko Haram, prosecutors additionally discovered grounds to imagine members of Nigeria’s safety forces had dedicated crimes, she mentioned.
Amnesty Worldwide final week launched a report saying at the very least 10,000 civilians have died in Nigerian army custody since 2011 after being detained in reference to the Boko Haram insurgency in northern Nigeria.