Anxiety has overwhelmed many parents in Nigeria’s northern Kankara village who await word on their sons who are among the more than 330 kidnapped by extremists from a government boys’ school last week.
They held onto hope as the Katsina State Governor Aminu Bello Masari said that 17 boys have been rescued since the attack, including 15 by the military, another by police, and one boy found roaming in the forest who was brought in by residents.
Nigeria’s Boko Haram jihadist rebels have claimed responsibility for the abduction of the students from the Government Science Secondary School in Kankara. Hundreds of other students managed to escape by jumping the fence during the extremists’ attack or by fleeing as they were taken into the nearby forest.
Boko Haram kidnapped the boys from the school because it believes Western education is un-Islamic, the rebels’ leader Abubakar Shekau said in a video claiming responsibility for the attack, according to SITE Intelligence Group.
The Nigerian government is in talks with the attackers in an effort to free the boys, government spokesman Garba Shehu said in a statement. He did not, however, identify the attackers who the government earlier described as bandits.
Aminu Ma’le, whose child was among the 17 who regained their freedom, said “I give thanks to God for helping us out in a miraculous way, and I pray for the safety of other children still missing or in captivity.”
His son was found wandering in the bush by the military, he said.
Parents say they are tired of waiting for the situation in the north, home to President Muhammadu Buhari, to improve.
When armed patrols go by, parents outside the school momentarily gain hope that they may have found their sons.
Across Nigeria, people are closely following the fate of the kidnapped boys and many criticize the government for the continuing extremist violence.
“Nobody is happy about the insecurity in the country. Even kids are afraid of being in present Nigeria because of insecurity. Just imagine, the children been abducted in the president’s state! It is unfair. It’s not good,” said 58-year-old Sylvester Anachike, who sells newspapers in Abuja.
Friday’s abduction has become a rallying cry for Nigerians fed up with the ongoing extremist violence. #BringBackOurBoys is trending on Twitter as people express their frustrations and hark back to 2014 when the #BringBackOurGirls campaign became an international rallying cry for girls kidnapped from a government boarding school in Chibok, in northeastern Nigeria.