A faction of the Boko Haram Nigerian terrorist group has claimed responsibility for the abduction of more than 520 boys from their school in Katsina state last Friday.
In a brief audio tape sent to the Nigerian media house HumAngle on 15th December, the Boko Haram faction leader Abubakar Shekau claimed responsibility for the abduction of boys from the Government Science Secondary School in Kankara Local Government Area on 11th December.
Shekau said that the action was carried out "to promote Islam and discourage un-Islamic practices as Western education is not the type of education permitted by Allah and his Holy Prophet."
The abducted boys are reportedly being held in the Dajin Rugu Forest, the notorious headquarters of criminal gangs, which spans over 220km and stretches from the Republic of Niger to Kaduna, Katsina, Niger and Zamfara states.
Following the abductions Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina and Zamfara states ordered the closure of schools, with some citing a rise in COVID-19 infections.
The kidnappings occurred within 24 hours of the arrival of the Nigerian president at his home in Daura, Katsina state, for a week-long private visit. Earlier, an armed gang attacked Gamji village, Sabwa LGA, Katsina state, and abducted 13 people, including the village head, Mallam Falalu Galadima, during the early hours of 10th December.
Meanwhile in Niger state, gunmen who attacked the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) vicarage in Chikuba town in Shiroro LGA on 10th December, killing 37-year-old Reverend Jeremiah Ibrahim, are demanding the equivalent of around $26,300 (£19,376) for the return of his wife, who was abducted along with four other women, according to CSW.
The couple were visiting the area when the attack occurred. According to local reports, Rev Ibrahim was murdered as he emerged from his hiding place after wrongly assuming the attackers had left.
The Boko Haram faction leader Abubakar Shekau has also secured the allegiance of armed groups in Cameroon, Chad and the Republic of Niger. In a video claiming responsibility for a 4-hour attack on Toumour town in the Diffa region of the Republic of Niger between 12th and 13th December, in which 28 people died, hundreds were injured and nearly two thirds of the homes were destroyed, a masked fighter issued a warning "to all the Christians in the world: especially that Christmas is approaching, you should know we will never stop killing you," CSW reported.