Dec. 18 (UPI) — More than 300 schoolboys who were abducted at gunpoint from a school in northwestern Nigeria last week returned to their home state on Friday after a successful military rescue operation.
Authorities said the boys were taken from the Government Science Secondary School in Katsina State a week ago. The military operation on Thursday rescued 344 of schoolboys. Officials said it’s not yet known if there are other students taken last week who are still in captivity.
Katsina Gov. Aminu Masari welcomed the boys back to their home state on Friday.
“The released students will be carefully reunited with their parents after the state authorities in collaboration with local government officials confirm that those that come forward are the real parents,” Masari said.
“I am more disturbed about the abduction than any other parents. This is because while parents cried for a missing child, I cried for 344 missing children.”
Masari said the boys would be reunited with their families after a medical evaluation.
“This is a huge relief to the entire country and international community,” Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari added in a tweet, asking residents in Katsina to be “patient and fair” with his administration amid complaints that security lapses allowed the kidnapping to occur.
“Our administration is fully aware of the responsibility we have to protect the lives and property of all Nigerians,” Buhari said.
“I ask Nigerians to be patient and fair to us as we deal with the challenges of security, the economy, and corruption. We will not relent.”
It was initially thought that Nigerian terror group Boko Haram, which has previously kidnapped students by the hundreds, was responsible for the abductions. Masari said, however, that local bandits posing as Boko Haram were the culprits.