Bandits have released 15 out of the remaining 80 of the 123 pupils kidnapped from Bethel Baptist High School in Nigeria’s Kaduna State after 48 days in captivity.
The 15 students were released on Saturday night, while 65 more remain in the hands of the robbers who have been demanding for money.
Rev John Hayab, the Kaduna State Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in North West Nigeria, confirmed the students’ release.
In the early hours of July 5, 2021, bandits broke into the missionary school and kidnapped 121 pupils.
The state police command’s spokeswoman, Mr Mohammed Jalige, confirmed the students’ release but did not disclose whether the parents had paid the ransom.
On July 25, 2021, the abductors freed some of the students after obtaining a ransom of N50 million ($100,000), and later released a few others due to health concerns, while some escaped on their own.
The bandits have made fresh a demand of N80 million ($160,000) ransom to release the remaining students.
The freed students were handed over to their excited parents at the Baptist Secretariat on Ahmadu Bello Way in Kaduna by the president of Baptist Convention, Rev Israel Akanji, who was optimistic that the remaining students would be released soon.
“We are grateful to God for the release of these 15 children, although the number is smaller than what we expected because we had 80 out there; they have given us 15.
“But in everything, God says we should give thanks. We are grateful for what he has done. And we are trusting that the same God will help us to receive the remaining 63. We have great hope in God and we will keep praying and keep asking God for help.
“We do not know why they did not release all the children. But we are trusting God that others too will come.”
At least 1,618 students have been abducted since February 2021 by bandits in Kaduna, Katsina, Zamfara, Niger and Sokoto states.
The abduction of students was first carried out by Boko Haram fighters on April 14, 2021 when the terrorists struck the Government Girls Science Secondary School in Chibok, Borno state, taking with them 276 students.
At least 100 of the schoolgirls are still being held by abductors.