“All the 15 schoolchildren that were abducted on Monday have now regained freedom. They were rescued by a combined team of army and police security services late last night in the forest of Ogwe-Asa in Abia state,” Jonathan Johnson, the state’s police commissioner, said.
All the children were in the southern town of Aba, where they were believed to have been held since gunmen hijacked their bus as they were on the way to school, he said.
“No arrests have been made yet and no ransom was paid to the best of my knowledge,” Johnson said.
Hundreds of soldiers in armoured vehicles sealed off the town on the fringes of the Niger Delta in a security sweep.
Kidnapping for ransom is common in and around the Niger Delta, an impoverished area despite being home to Africa’s largest oil and gas industry.
However, the abduction of a large group of children, some as young as three, caused outrage. President Goodluck Jonathan condemned the kidnapping as “utterly callous and cruel”.
Initial reports suggested the kidnappers were seeking a ransom of 20m naira (£95,000), although newspapers said yesterday that demand had dropped to 350,000 naira (£1,600).
Three French oil workers were kidnapped from a drilling supply ship last week, and police in nearby Rivers state say five women were kidnapped two weeks ago by a gang believed to be from Abia state. Nothing has been heard of either group. – The Guardian
Category: News and Politricks