Another Mass Abduction in Nigeria Raises Fears of a Resurgent Boko Haram

Another Mass Abduction in Nigeria Raises Fears of a Resurgent Boko Haram
A group of schoolboys are escorted by Nigerian military and officials following their release after they were kidnapped last week, in Katsina, Nigeria, Dec. 18, 2020 (AP photo by Sunday Alamba).

Editor’s Note: Africa Watch will be off for the holidays the next two weeks. It will return Jan. 8.

More than 340 Nigerian schoolboys, abducted by armed men in a nighttime raid last week, were freed Thursday and are being reunited with their families. Boko Haram claimed responsibility for kidnapping the boys from their boarding school in northwestern Katsina state, and the celebration of their release was tempered by concerns that the jihadist group may now be expanding beyond its traditional base in the country’s northeast. Government critics are also questioning whether President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration is equipped to contain a resurgent Boko Haram.

On the evening of Dec. 11, militants armed with AK-47s stormed the all-boys Government Science Secondary School in the town of Kankara. An estimated 800 students were in attendance at the time, though hundreds managed to escape. Boko Haram then released videos taking responsibility, including a clip where one of the abducted boys says, “We have been caught by the gang of Abu Shekau,” the Boko Haram leader. But Nigerian officials and security experts suspect the Kankara raid was actually carried out by local gangs that are collaborating with Boko Haram as it tries to expand its campaign across northern Nigeria.

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