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Nigeria: 87 villagers kidnapped in Kaduna state

March 18, 2024

Kaduna state in Nigeria reports a mass abduction of 87 villagers by gunmen, adding to a week of terror with 75 others kidnapped nearby. The victims' families face having to pay hefty ransoms to get their loved ones back.

Nigerian soldiers in Kaduna state in early March
Security forces had already been deployed to retrieve the kidnapped villagesImage: Sunday Alamba/AP Photo/picture alliance

An armed gang kidnapped at least 87 people from a village in Nigeria's Kaduna state, police said Monday.

The hostages — among which are both women and children — were taken from a village in the Kajuru district on Sunday.

Some 75 people were abducted from other nearby villages over the past week. In early March, 287 students and staff were kidnapped from a village in the neighboring district of Chikun, also in Kaduna state.

What we know about the kidnapping

Locals reported seeing men dressed in army uniforms arrive undetected in the village.

Kidnappers have been known to force their hostages to march into the bush where they are held for months awaiting ransom.

"We were outside our homes chatting around 10:30 p.m. (2130 GMT) and suddenly bandits appeared, beating and shooting," said Haruna Atiku, whose wife and daughters are among the missing.

School abductions spotlight Nigeria's kidnapping crisis

Kaduna police spokesperson Mansur Hassan reported the incident on Sunday, saying that security agents had been deployed to retrieve the hostages, however, the number of those taken was not known at the time.

"We have so far recorded the return of five people back home who fled through the bush. This attack makes it five times that these bandits are attacking this community," village head Tanko Wada Sarkin told Reuters news agency.

Victims' families face hefty ransoms

The kidnapping of villagers in northern Nigeria first made headlines a decade ago when Islamist group Boko Haram took captive 276 school girls in Borno state.

While groups like Boko Haram had ideological motives for their actions, other criminal gangs have taken to carrying out kidnappings in order to secure ransom payments.

Affected families are often forced to sell land and other prized possessions to retrieve their loved ones, wreaking havoc on their lives.

The kidnappers of the 287 students have demanded 1 billion naira (more than $620,000, €570,000) for their release, which amounts to more than $2,000 per hostage, or more than the annual per capita income in Nigeria, according to International Monetary Fund data.

While the government has made it illegal to pay ransoms for kidnapping, many see themselves with no other option as the criminal gangs threaten to kill the hostages unless their families pay up.

Nigerians demand state help to free their kids

ab/wd (Reuters, dpa)