344 Nigerian schoolboys released by captors

By: AFP      Published: 01:09 PM, 18 Dec, 2020
344 Nigerian schoolboys released by captors

An estimated 344 schoolboys abducted in northwest Nigeria last week have been released, a local official in Katsina state said on Thursday.

"We have 344 students, they are currently in Zamfara undergoing checks. We are grateful to God they have been released," Ibrahim Katsina, a security aide to the governor told AFP.

Earlier, a presidential aide said the schoolboys had been freed, but it was unclear was how many were released amid ongoing uncertainty over the number taken in the first place.

Two officials put the number of schoolboys at 320 and 333, while locals in Kankara put it at more than 500.

"No one can give the exact number," a security source told AFP, saying the children were left in a forest after negotiations with the government.

The children were in the town of Tsafe in Zamfara state and nearby Yankara, in Katsina state.

"The actual number of freed children will only be known after a head count when they arrive in (the state capital) Katsina. Any figures given are a conjecture," the security source added.

The attack was initially blamed on criminals, known locally as bandits, but was later claimed by Boko Haram.

The jihadist group released a video on Thursday claiming to show schoolboys seized in the mass kidnapping.