Rebels from the Boko Haram extremist group claimed duty Tuesday for final week’s abduction of a whole bunch of boys from a faculty in Nigeria’s northern Katsina State — one of many largest such assaults in years, elevating fears of a rising wave of violence within the area.

Greater than 330 college students remained lacking from the Authorities Science Secondary Faculty in Kankara, after gunmen with assault rifles attacked their college Friday night time. Scores of others managed to flee.

The federal government and the attackers are negotiating the destiny of the boys, in keeping with Garba Shehu, a spokesperson for Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari.

“The abductors had made contact and discussions have been already on, pertaining to the security and return” of the kids to their properties, stated Shehu on Twitter throughout talks with Katsina Gov. Aminu Masari. Neither official stated whether or not the negotiations are with Boko Haram or one other group.

Masari stated safety companies “deployed for rescue operations have additionally knowledgeable us that they’ve positioned their place.”

The Each day Nigerian stated it obtained an audio message from Boko Haram chief Abubakar Shekau claiming the kidnapping, though there was no impartial verification of its authenticity.

Nigerian navy members stroll across the college. A spokesperson for Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari stated the federal government and the attackers are negotiating the destiny of the kidnapped college students. (Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters)

The Islamic extremist group has carried out mass abductions of scholars earlier than. Essentially the most critical occurred in April 2014, when greater than 270 schoolgirls have been taken from their dormitory on the Authorities Secondary Faculty in Chibok in northeastern Borno State. About 100 of the women are nonetheless lacking.

In February 2014, 59 boys have been killed throughout a Boko Haram assault on the Federal Authorities Faculty Buni Yadi in Yobe State.

Some college students in a position to escape throughout gunfight, police say

Within the audio message about Friday’s assault, Shekau stated his group kidnapped the schoolboys as a result of Western schooling is towards the tenets of Islam.

Greater than 600 college students attend the varsity. Many have been in a position to escape throughout a gunfight between the attackers and the police, in keeping with state police spokesman Gambo Isah.

College students corroborated this account with varied information companies, saying a lot of them have been additionally rounded up and compelled to stroll to a close-by forest, the place some have been additionally in a position to flee.

A number of armed teams function in northern Nigeria, the place Katsina State is positioned. It was initially believed that the attackers have been bandits, who generally work with Boko Haram.

Bandits have operated within the northwest area for a while, and kidnappings have elevated in recent times. Amnesty Worldwide says that greater than 1,100 folks have been killed within the first six months of 2020 in violence associated to assaults by bandits.

Joint rescue operation

A joint rescue operation was launched Saturday by Nigeria’s police, air pressure and military after the navy engaged in gunfights with bandits after finding their hideout within the Zango/Paula forest.

College students’ college luggage and different belongings are seen on the ground of the classroom. The kidnapping has grow to be a rallying cry for Nigerians fed up with rising violence. (Kola Sulaimon/AFP/Getty Pictures)

If Boko Haram is confirmed to be behind the kidnapping, it may imply a brand new wave of spiritual extremism is on the rise in Nigeria. For greater than 10 years, the group has engaged in a bloody marketing campaign for introducing strict Islamic rule, however it has been primarily energetic in northeast Nigeria, not within the northwest, the place Katsina State is positioned. Hundreds have been killed and greater than one million folks displaced by the violence.

Friday’s abduction has grow to be a rallying cry for Nigerians fed up with rising violence, with #BringBackOurBoys trending on Twitter as folks categorical their frustrations. An identical #BringBackOurGirls grew to become a world rallying cry for the Chibok ladies.

Investigation into battle crimes may very well be coming

The abductions additionally come as Boko Haram and the Nigerian navy could also be investigated for battle crimes within the rebels’ insurgency, which has lasted greater than a decade.

The Worldwide Legal Courtroom’s chief prosecutor final week stated a probe has discovered sufficient proof to benefit opening a full-scale inquiry into allegations of battle crimes and crimes towards humanity by Boko Haram extremists in addition to into fees that Nigerian authorities forces have additionally perpetrated abuses.

Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda stated there’s a “cheap foundation to imagine” Boko Haram and splinter teams linked to it dedicated crimes together with homicide, rape, sexual slavery and torture, in addition to deliberately concentrating on faculties and locations of worship and utilizing little one troopers. Whereas a overwhelming majority of the criminality within the battle has been carried out by Boko Haram, prosecutors additionally discovered grounds to imagine members of Nigeria’s safety forces had dedicated crimes, she stated.

Amnesty Worldwide final week launched a report saying at the least 10,000 civilians have died in Nigerian navy custody since 2011 after being detained in reference to the Boko Haram insurgency in northern Nigeria.

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