The chief of Boko Haram, the Islamist extremist group that kidnapped a whole lot of schoolgirls in Nigeria six years in the past, has claimed duty for the mass abduction of scholars in north-western Katsina state final week.
In an audio tape launched on Tuesday, Abubakar Shekau mentioned: “Our brothers had been behind the kidnapping in Katsina.”
A big group of males armed with AK-47s overran the all-boys Authorities Science secondary college within the city of Kankara on Friday night time, marching greater than 300 college students into surrounding forests.
Boko Haram kidnapped 276 women from their college dormitory in Chibok, in north-eastern Borno state, in April 2014 and about 100 are nonetheless lacking. The group has additionally taken different schoolchildren in addition to hundreds of individuals throughout north-east Nigeria and has lately expanded into the nation’s north-west.
There’s doubt over the direct involvement of Boko Haram within the newest mass abduction, nonetheless. Shekau’s assertion lacked element, and officers in Katsina have already acquired ransom calls for from a gaggle of bandits that witnesses mentioned had been accountable.
One western official working in counter-terrorism within the area mentioned it was doable bandits could have transferred some or the entire kidnapped schoolboys to the extremists in return for cash, weapons or different assets.
Throughout the whole Sahel area, there are shut relations between armed criminals, traffickers and Islamist extremists.
Extra particulars have emerged of Friday’s assault. Musa Adamu, 18, was sleeping within the college’s dormitory when he heard gunshots.
“The sound received louder, then I ran and jumped out of the window and over the fence of the college and ran together with many others into the forest. We spent the night time there, as a result of we had been afraid to come back again to the college,” he mentioned.
One other scholar was unable to flee the preliminary assault and was robbed.
“Two of the gunmen broke into our hostel and requested us to present them our telephones. I instructed them I had no cellphone, then they collected our cash, then broke open our lockers and took our soaps, pores and skin lotions, milk and biscuits,” mentioned Hassan Al Bashir.
“The gunmen then began shouting that we must always all go outdoors, however as we had been going I sneaked and hid and that was how I escaped them.’’
Samatu Aliyu was pressured to march into the forest by the attackers with a whole lot of others, however managed to flee and located his manner again to Kankara after 36 hours.
“We walked from that night time to the morning within the forest with out footwear. Most of us had ft that had been bleeding and there was nothing to eat. We solely drank muddy water, and in some unspecified time in the future, they left me behind and turned away, and so I ran and walked again alone,” Aliyu mentioned.
The assault has sparked anger within the largely poor and rural area.
Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari, who’s from Katsina, condemned the “cowardly … assault on harmless kids”.
Jamilu Isah, a resident of Kankara, mentioned the city was “in mourning”.
“Our moms are nonetheless crying in all places you go within the city. Individuals are not comfortable. We really feel the federal government has deserted us … we simply need them to carry our boys again,” he mentioned.
Kidnappings for ransom by bandits have change into commonplace throughout a lot of the north-west in recent times, with frequent ambushes on roads, in addition to deadly robberies focusing on cattle and meals.
Cities near forests stretching throughout north-west Nigeria and into Niger have been probably the most susceptible to assaults.
In accordance with Amnesty Worldwide, 1,126 folks had been killed by bandits in Nigeria between January and June this 12 months.
Whereas “banditry” encompasses a variety of felony exercise, most of the current large-scale armed assaults are suspected to have been carried out by assailants from the semi-nomadic Fulani group.
The assault in Katsina will put additional stress on Buhari and his authorities, which have failed to handle the endemic insecurity in a lot of Nigeria.
Successive army efforts have did not destroy Boko Haram and Shekau has been reported lifeless on a number of events.
“The Buhari administration has not responded to this case with the urgency, seriousness and tact it requires. Totally different army operations have been launched, however it’s clear that each one of them are understaffed, under-skilled and underfunded,” Bulama Bukarti, an extremism knowledgeable and analyst on the Tony Blair Institute, mentioned.