Compiled from reports in CBN News, Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin and CSW
121 students were kidnapped in the early hours of Monday morning by a large group of armed Fulani bandits who stormed the boarding hostel of the Bethel Baptist High School in Nigeria’s northern state of Kaduna.
According to Reverend Ishaya Jangado, head of the Kaduna Baptist Conference that manages the school, in Maraban Rido, near Kaduna city, about 28 students escaped — some by hiding in the school and others by running away during the 2am attack — the fourth mass school kidnapping in the past six months.
Shortly after the Bethel Baptist High School assault, bandits also attempted a mass kidnapping at the nearby Faith Academy, a secondary school belonging to the Living Faith Church Worldwide. The bandits managed to breach the perimeter fence, only to be repelled by soldiers.
The Kaduna State Schools Quality Assurance Authority on Monday ordered the closure of 13 schools, most of which belong to Christian denominations or organisations, which it has identified as being “vulnerable,” following Monday’s attacks.
Previously, in the early hours of Sunday, Fulani bandits attacked a Divisional Police Headquarters in the Saye area of Zaria Town, 80km north of Kaduna city. A firefight ensued, but it seems this was only a distraction, for close by, in a simultaneous attack, bandits raided the staff quarters of the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Training Centre, Zaria Town. The bandits broke in, firing indiscriminately, before escaping with eight hostages, comprised of staff – including a nurse with her infant child — and a security guard. It was the third time the training hospital had been attacked.
Rev Jangado said the Bethel Baptist High School kidnappers made contact with him on Tuesday and that he was allowed to talk with some students who confirmed that they were unharmed. He said that they met with members of the government who promised to work to rescue the students and bring them back home.
As news of the school kidnapping broke on Monday parents rushed to the school where they wailed and prayed for the return of their children. One of the desperate parents crying out to God was a widow who has four children among the hostages.
Twelve months ago, terrorism analyst Jacob Zenn warned that if jihadist groups get a foothold among the Fulani in the North West, then nothing “will prevent their continued expansion until northern Nigeria becomes overwhelmed”.
Now, Nigeria’s Daily Trust reports (28 June) that Boko Haram, Ansaru and Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) “are competing with one another in a mass membership drive among the ranks of bandits terrorising most of the North West and part of North Central states … Locals, security sources and experts who spoke with our reporter said the push is already yielding fruits for the insurgent groups with some prominent bandits declaring allegiance to the terrorist groups or consenting to a close working relationship; sharing intelligence and logistics support among themselves. States worst hit by the intractable rural banditry are: Niger, Kaduna, Zamfara, Katsina, Sokoto and Kebbi. The states share boundaries and are easily navigated through large swathes of unmanned forests … For a long time, security sources said Boko Haram, ISWAP and Ansaru have been [active in the region] with the aim of benefiting from the chaos created by bandits, especially in the worst-hit states.’ A recently published ISWAP propaganda video shows ex-Boko Haram fighters pledging allegiance to ISWAP, whose spokesman vows to ‘not relent in our effort to fight the kuffar’ (unbelievers: i.e. all non-Muslims plus any Muslim who disagrees with the jihadists).”
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