“It gladdens my heart to announce the release of the abducted students of GGSS Jangebe from captivity,” Bello Matawalle tweeted. “Our daughters are now safe.”
Hundreds of hijabi girls were seen at the government premises, waiting to be reunited with their families.
But Matawalle said the total number of female students Authorities initially said 317 girls were abducted in the raid by hundreds of gunmen on the Government Girls secondary school in the remote Jangebe village on Friday. abducted was 279. “We thank Allah they are all now with us,” he said on Tuesday.
Government officials had been in talks with the kidnappers, known as bandits, after Nigeria’s third school attack in less than three months.
State officials in Zamfara, like in other states besieged by bandit violence, have previously signed controversial “peace agreements”, offering money and amnesties with some of the many bandit groups that have terrorized much of north and central Nigeria in recent years.
Heavily armed criminal gangs in north-west and central Nigeria have stepped up attacks in recent years.
The groups have staged attacks from the haven of a forest expanse stretching from north-west Nigeria into Niger. Attacks have continued despite several air force raids and army operations.
Last week, unidentified gunmen killed a student in an overnight attack on a boarding school in the north-central Nigerian state of Niger and kidnapped 42 people, including 27 students. The hostages are yet to be released.
Kidnapping for ransom in Africa’s most populous country is a widespread problem, with businessmen, officials and ordinary citizens snatched from the streets by criminals seeking ransom money.
At least $11m was paid to kidnappers between January 2016 and March 2020, according to SB Morgen, a Lagos-based geopolitical research consultancy.