Chaos as freed Nigerian schoolgirls reunited with families

Chaos as freed Nigerian schoolgirls reunited with families
Parents are reunited with their daughters in Jangabe, Nigeria (Sunday Alamba/AP)

Hundreds of Nigerian girls abducted last week from a boarding school have been returned to their families amid chaos as security forces opened fire on a gathering outside the school where the reunions were held.

One person died and two people were injured in the mayhem, according to local media reports.

The forces opened fire after stones were thrown at government officials, apparently in frustration at the drawn-out procedure, reports said.

Anxious and angry parents who were reunited with the girls after six days of waiting grabbed their daughters and left after shots rang out. Many were worried about travelling on the area’s dangerous roads at night.

Freed schoolgirls during a reunion with their parents in Jangabe (Sunday Alamba/AP)

The girls, aged 10 and up, had been abducted from the Government Girls Secondary School in Jangebe in Nigeria’s northwest Zamfara state and were released on Tuesday after negotiations.

Zamfara governor Bello Matawalle said that 279 girls had been freed.

Upon their release, the girls were brought to the government’s provincial offices, Government House, in Gusau for presentation, before being medically examined and reunited with their families.

Following the kidnappings, the Zamfara state government announced a curfew, which remains in force.

Officials said “bandits” were behind the abduction, referring to groups of armed men who operate in Zamfara state and kidnap for money or to press for the release of their members from jail.

Parents are reunited with their daughters in Jangabe (Sunday Alamba/AP)

At the time of the attack, one resident told The Associated Press that the gunmen had also attacked a nearby military camp and checkpoint, preventing soldiers from responding to the abductions from the school.

Nigeria has seen several such attacks and kidnappings in recent years, the most notorious in 2014, when 276 girls were abducted by the jihadist rebels of Boko Haram from the secondary school in Chibok in Borno state. More than 100 of those girls are still missing.

Last week’s attack comes less than two weeks after gunmen abducted dozens of people, including 24 students, from the Government Science College Kagara in Niger State. The students, teachers and family members kidnapped from Kagara were released last week.

In December, 344 students were abducted from the Government Science Secondary School Kankara in Katsina State. They were eventually released.

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