Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Gunmen kidnap more than 100 in latest Nigeria attacks

Kidnappers have abducted over 100 people in two new attacks in northwest Nigeria weeks after more than 250 school pupils were seized in the same state, residents and officials told AFP on Monday.

They blamed gangs of criminals known locally as bandits for the abductions in the Kajuru area of Kaduna state over the weekend, which pile pressure on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu after a spate of large-scale abductions.

Bandits routinely target communities, loot villages and carry out mass kidnappings for ransom in northwest and north-central Nigeria, where the violence has displaced around a million people, according to the UN.

On Sunday night, gunmen kidnapped 87 people in Kajuru Station, according to local government chairman Ibrahim Gajere.

"They went and removed people from their homes at gunpoint," he said.

Resident Harisu Dari said bandits stormed the village at around 10:00 pm and went door to door abducting residents.

A UN source and a former local official, both speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity, confirmed the account.

On Saturday, 16 people were kidnapped in Dogon Noma around 10 kilometres (six miles) away, according to Dari, the UN source and the former local official.

Kaduna police and the state's security commissioner did not respond to repeated requests for confirmation.

'Out of control'

Last week, gunmen abducted dozens of people from another village in Kajuru district.

It followed the kidnapping of more than 250 pupils from a school in Kuriga village about 150 kilometres (93 miles) from Kajuru district earlier this month, one of the biggest such attacks in years.

A family member told AFP that state governor Uba Sani met relatives' representatives on Monday and said he was doing all he could to free the children.

Relatives say the kidnappers demanded a large payment for the return of the students, but last week President Tinubu said he had ordered security forces not to pay up.

Kidnap victims in Nigeria are often freed following negotiations with the authorities, though a 2022 law banned handing money to kidnappers and officials deny ransom payments are made.

Officials say troops have been searching forests to rescue the Kuriga students, but families say few details have emerged since the abductions.

Nigerian risk consultancy SBM Intelligence said it had recorded 4,777 people abducted since Tinubu took office in May last year.

Tinubu's government has promised to tackle insecurity, but in an interview last week senior SBM security analyst Confidence MacHarry told AFP there had been few improvements.

"Nigerian security architecture is not responsive enough to stop the menace from going out of control," he warned.


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