Gunmen kidnap more than 300 girls in raid on northwest Nigerian school


An operation to rescue more than 300 girls kidnapped in Nigeria had failed to pinpoint their location by late on Friday, almost 24 hours after gunmen seized them in a raid on their school.

The raid in Zamfara state, where the governor ordered all boarding schools to close immediately, was the second such kidnapping in little over a week in the country’s northwest, a region increasingly targeted by militants and criminal gangs.

Zamfara police said they had begun search-and-rescue operations with the army to find the “bandits” who took the 317 girls from the Government Girls Science Secondary School in the town of Jangebe.

“There’s information that they were moved to a neighbouring forest, and we are tracking and exercising caution,” Zamfara police commissioner Abutu Yaro told a news conference.

All the abductees remained at large, but the parent of one of them, Mohammed Usman Jangebe, said seven of their schoolmates had resurfaced after escaping the raiders by hiding in gutters.

The assailants stormed in at around 1 am, firing sporadically, said Zamfara’s information commissioner, Sulaiman Tanau Anka.

“Information available to me said they came with vehicles and moved the students. They also moved some on foot,” he told Reuters.

By late Friday, there had been no claim of responsibility for the raid.

School kidnappings were first carried out by jihadist groups Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa Province but the tactic has now been adopted by other militants whose agenda is unclear.

They have become endemic around the increasingly lawless north, to the anguish of families and frustration of Nigeria’s government and armed forces. Friday’s was the third such incident since December.

An empty classroom of the Government Science College where gunmen kidnapped dozens of students and staffs, in Kagara, Nigeria on 18 February, 2021.

AFP

The rise in abductions is fuelled in part by sizeable government payoffs in exchange for child hostages, catalysing a broader breakdown of security in the north, officials have said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The government denies making such payouts, and President Muhammadu Buhari reiterated on Friday that it would will not succumb to blackmail.

In a statement isued late on Friday, he also appealed to state administrations not to reward bandits with money or vehicles.

Rage and frustration in Jangebe

The town of Jangebe seethed with anger over the abduction, said a government official who was part of the delegation to the community.

Young men hurled rocks at journalists driving through the town, injuring a cameraman, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“People mobilised to block security operatives, journalists and government officials from getting access to the main town,” he said.

Parents arrive at the school compound in search of children kidnapped by bandits, in Jangede, Zamfara State in northwest Nigeria.

Parents arrive at the school compound in search of children kidnapped by bandits, in Jangede, Zamfara State in northwest Nigeria.

AFP

Parents also had no faith in authorities to return their kidnapped girls, Mohammed Usman Jangebe told Reuters by phone.

“We are going to rescue our children, since the government isn’t ready to give them protection,” he said.

“All of us that have had our children abducted have agreed to follow them into the forest. We will not listen to anyone now until we rescue our children.”

A military shake-up 

Mr Buhari replaced his long-standing military chiefs this month amid the worsening violence.

Last week, unidentified gunmen kidnapped 42 people including 27 students, and killed one pupil, in an overnight attack on a boarding school in the north-central state of Niger. The hostages are yet to be released.

In December, dozens of gunmen abducted 344 schoolboys in northwest Katsina state. They were freed after six days but the government denied paying a ransom.

Islamic State’s West Africa branch in 2018 kidnapped more than 100 schoolgirls in northeast Nigeria, all but one of whom – the only Christian – were released. A ransom was paid, according to the United Nations.

Perhaps the most notorious kidnapping in recent years was when Boko Haram militants abducted 276 schoolgirls from Chibok in Borno state in April 2014. The incident drew widespread global attention, with then US first lady Michelle Obama among the prominent figures calling for their return.

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Millionaire French hotel owner to testify in kidnap trial



Jacqueline Veyrac, 80, will give evidence in France over a botched attempt to kidnap her for ransom.

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The Plot to Kidnap Me


Look no further than the president calling me a “dictator” on Fox News, Mitch McConnell laughing on the debate stage as his Democratic challenger called on him to save lives by passing a COVID-19 relief bill, or Republican legislative leaders right here in Michigan fraternizing with those who stormed the Michigan capitol, long guns in hand. From the White House all the way down to state and local governments, these leaders have shown a disdain for unity and have failed to rally fellow Americans against a common enemy: COVID-19.

Even now, as leaders from both sides of the aisle call on him to tone down his violent rhetoric, Trump just keeps going, hostile as ever. He is trying to distract Americans from his failure to protect our families and trying to divide us further to win the election. He has taken to Twitter to spread lies and launch cheap insults against those with whom he disagrees. Eight months into the pandemic, he still does not have a plan to protect our frontline workers or rebuild our economy. He has only lies, vitriol, and hate. And as we saw earlier this month, his violent rhetoric puts leaders across the country in danger.

We cannot count on President Trump to rebuild America. We cannot expect him to unite us against violence and hate. Fueling the deep divisions within our country is a tactic he has been using for years, often with the help of social-media platforms like Facebook, which domestic terrorists used to organize the plot against me.

I grew up during a time when Republicans and Democrats routinely worked across the aisle to get things done, whether it was at the federal level or at the state level right here in Michigan. I grew up in a bipartisan household, with a dad who worked for a Republican governor and a mom who worked for the Democratic state attorney general. This was a time when, as the late Representative John Dingell wrote in his last words to America, leaders “observed modicums of respect even as we fought, often bitterly and savagely, over issues that were literally life and death.” Our leaders knew that at the end of the day, we are all Americans; we all deserve to be treated with humanity and respect. And they were bound by their calling to public service. Those were the values I learned when I sat down at the dinner table with my parents every night.

That is what this election is about. This election is about looking our kids in the eye and proving to them that we did everything in our power to build a stronger, safer, more sustainable America for everyone.

The past four years have been the worst version of America. Ever since Donald Trump first stepped foot in the White House, we have moved away from the common ideals and values that are supposed to unify us as a country, putting leaders across the country—including me—in danger. This president has failed our country, and it is on all of us to come together to turn things around. We deserve better.

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FBI arrests six in plot to kidnap Michigan governor


Six people have been arrested for allegedly plotting to overthrow the Michigan state government and kidnap its governor, Gretchen Whitmer, prior to the November 3 presidential election, law enforcement authorities said on Thursday.

The alleged plot included reaching out to a militia group, according to an affidavit by FBI special agent Richard Trask released earlier on Thursday.

“Our efforts uncovered elaborate plans to endanger the lives of law enforcement officers, government officials and the broader public,” Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel told a news conference.

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has been a target of Trump’s criticism, including over her moves to enforce social distancing rules in her state.

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The arrested suspects – Adam Fox, Barry Croft, Ty Garbin, Kaleb Franks, Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta – could face life in prison if convicted on charges of attempting to kidnap Whitmer, said US Attorney for the Western District of Michigan, Andrew Birge.



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