One week after they were kidnapped by gunmen, the Katsina State Governor, Aminu Masari has confirmed the release of the students abducted from a school in Kankara Local Government Area (LGA) of Katsina on Thursday,
According to him, the boys would be brought back to Kankara in Katsina State on Friday. He said they are presently kept safe in Tsafe, a local government area in Zamfara State.
A spokesman for the governor of Katsina state said 344 had been freed and were all in a good condition.
The attack was claimed by the Islamist militant group Boko Haram, which hours after their abduction released a video apparently showing some of the boys.
The state Governor Aminu Bello Masari was quoted by Reuters news agency as saying,
“we have recovered most of the boys. It’s not all of them,” while a security source told the AFP news agency some remained with their captors.
Mr Labaran said none of the kidnapped boys had been killed, contradicting a boy shown in the video who said some had been killed by Nigerian fighter jets.
Shortly after their release was reported, President Muhammadu Buhari described the safe return of the schoolboys as a big relief to their families, the entire country and to the international community.
He commended what he called the spirit of partnership and the collaborative efforts of the governments of Katsina, Zamfara and military which led to the release of the students.
Witnesses said armed men came to the school in Kankara town on Friday evening last week, and many students jumped the school fence and fled when they heard gunshots.
Others were tracked by the gunmen, who tricked them into believing that they were security personnel, students who escaped said. Once the students were rounded up, they were marched into the nearby forest by the armed men.
One of the boys said they were kidnapped by Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau’s gang and that all the government troops who had been sent to help them should be turned back.
While some of the students abducted escaped during the incident, some others returned recently as the grieving parents keep watch at the school in anticipation of their children’s release.
The abduction of the students sparked an outrage with calls from various individuals and groups on the government to step up efforts towards securing the lives of the people.
It occurred at a time when President Muhammadu Buhari had travelled to Daura, his hometown in Katsina for a private visit.
The President had condemned the incident in a statement shortly after it happened and sent a delegation of the Federal Government comprising the Minister of Defence, Major General Bashir Magashi, and the service chiefs to Katsina to work with the state government in securing the release of the schoolboys.
In spite of his action, President Buhari was under fire for not visiting Kankara to sympathize with the parents of the students.
Receiving the delegation at the Government House on Sunday, Governor Masari confirmed that at least 333 students were still unaccounted for.
Magashi, on his part, had assured the governor that the security agencies had swung into action and promised that the boys would be rescued “in some few hours”.
It, however, took four days since the minister made the remarks before the students were released.
Their parents can now heave a sigh of relief when their children return to them, but it is unclear if their captors released all the students.