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Mass Kidnapping in Nigeria: Over 280 Schoolchildren Abducted by Gunmen in Kuriga

Published March 11, 2024
2 months ago

Kuriga, a normally peaceful agrarian village located approximately 100 kilometers from the northwestern Nigerian city of Kaduna, was plunged into chaos when dozens of gunmen stormed a school and kidnapped over 280 students. This devastating incident, which unfolded at around 8:00 AM just as classes were about to commence last Thursday, marks one of the largest mass abductions in recent Nigerian history.


Dressed in military uniforms and arriving on motorbikes, the attackers masquerading as soldiers, initially fooled some of the children into welcoming them. However, as they began to fire their weapons into the air, the terrifying truth became apparent, leading to a frenzied scene of confusion and terror among students and teachers.


Witnesses recall the horror as more than a thousand schoolchildren were about to engage in their daily learning activities in Kuriga’s poorly-fenced and structurally compromised school facility. As the gunmen began their assault, the victims, including many young children, attempted to flee, only to be ruthlessly rounded up and dragged away.


11-year-old Maryam Usman thought the men arriving were soldiers and greeted them before realizing their true intentions. Usman managed a narrow escape by shedding her hijab as she was dragged along the ground by one of the assailants. Her story mirrors the experiences of many other children who were forcefully taken that day.


Mustapha Abubakar, an 18-year-old secondary school student, also detailed the ordeal, recounting the long and grueling march through the forest, the separation of boys from girls, and his ultimate escape back to safety. His testimony gives insight into the fear and exhaustion experienced by the victims as well as their determination to survive.


Locals, including a young farmer and a member of the village protection force Jibril Ahmad, were left in shock, unable to protect the children as they watched the gunmen execute their plan with relentless efficiency. Vigilante efforts to counter the attackers led to casualties among the protectors, further emphasizing the boldness and ruthlessness of the assailants.


Nigeria’s security forces, heavily criticized in the aftermath for the recurring nature of such events, have been tirelessly searching the surrounding forests, which span across Kaduna and neighboring states. Parents and guardians of the abducted students are left with nothing but hope and an anxious wait for the return of their loved ones.


Mass kidnappings in Nigeria have spiked over recent years, with criminal gangs known as bandits targeting schools, colleges, and highways. Their objectives are clear – to abduct large groups of people, often children, for ransom, exploiting the vulnerability of areas with minimal security presence.


The Nigerian government faces increasing pressure to guarantee the safety of its citizens, particularly school-going children, and to effectively disrupt the capacity of these criminal networks to organize and execute these kidnappings.


Meanwhile, the community of Kuriga, scarred by this tragic event, remains vigilant and mournful, hoping for the safe return of the kidnapped children and a future where education does not come with the risk of abduction.



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