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Nigeria: Gunmen free scores of young students abducted from school three months ago

The students were released after their parents paid a ransom of $ 140,000 (70 million naira) and gave motorcycles as ransom to the kidnappers, according to school principal Abubakar Alhassan.

While speaking to reporters after the children were released, Alhassan said the money was raised after Nigerians from different sectors donated funds to secure their freedom.

“The government contributed, individuals contributed, imams, pastors also contributed. Even I got a call from TB Joshua, he is a Christian, but he contributed,” Alhassan said.

However, Niger state government spokeswoman Mary Noel-Berje said authorities were not part of the negotiations with the kidnappers.

“The parents (of the abducted students) negotiated with the kidnappers – knowing that the government was not prepared to participate in the ransom (negotiations),” Mary Noel-Berje told CNN.

About 136 students at the Salihu Tanko Islamic School in Tegina were arrested at gunpoint in May, the principal told CNN at the time.

The government of the State of Niger, however, specified in a statement on Friday that “a total of 91 children and two passers-by were abducted, 92 of whom have regained their freedom but unfortunately lost one of the children”.

The statement added that the released students appeared “weak and malnourished” and that some “will need more medical attention” before being reunited with their families.

Happy reunion

Hauwa’u Isa, whose seven children were among those released, told CNN: “I can’t find a word to express how delighted I am today. For the past 88 days, I have prayed so as not to die without seeing my children. “

Another relative, Fatima Adamu, said she almost gave up hope of seeing her kidnapped five-year-old son again.

“I was almost giving up on seeing my son again … but I thank God because today I will be coming home with him,” she told CNN.

Armed men stormed his school in a kidnapping raid.  Then she found her family at her kidnappers' hideout

Kidnapping for ransom remains a major security challenge in Nigeria.

Hundreds of students have been kidnapped in various incidents in the north of the country since December.

The Niger state government said the series of kidnappings had “to a large extent discouraged parents from sending their children to school.”

Dozens of schools have been closed in the northern region of Nigeria to prevent further attacks on academic institutions considered vulnerable.

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