32 students from a Baptist school in Nigeria have been freed following their kidnap in July.
Authorities in northern Nigeria have announced that three groups of students have been released within 24 hours. One group contained 90 pupils from an Islamic school, including some of the youngest children ever taken hostage in Nigeria, a second group that was freed was of 15 older students and a third group was of 32 students from Bethel Baptist high school in Kaduna state.
A total of 140 children were initially taken by armed bandits on 5th July. Since then, students have been released in batches.
Reverend Joseph Hayab, chairman of the Kaduna state chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria, confirmed that they have been freed.
However, more than 1,000 students have been kidnapped since December, according to an AP tally.
It is suspected that ransoms were asked for and paid to bandits.
Initially, just 15 were released on Saturday 21st August, prompting this report in Nigerian media:
For some communities, local conflict has also been an increasing problem.
Rev Dr Stephen Baba Panya, President of the Evangelical Church of West Africa, said in a statement:
"Sunday 23rd July to Monday 2nd August 2021 has been the worst nightmare of the entire Irigwe land. The Fulani Militia, with every of their might have invaded not less than 15 villages, burnt and destroyed not less than 405 houses and churches inclusive, displaced about 20,000 people and destroyed thousands of hectares of farm crops."
He criticised the Nigerian army for not intervening: "This in the least, is very quickly eroding the confidence of the populace in the military and security agencies, as unbiased protectors of all, devoid of tribe, ethnicity or religion."