Nigeria arrests three over Baptist school abduction

Three of the captors have been arrested along with 47 other suspects accused of other crimes, national police spokesperson Frank Mba said late Thursday.

Nigerian lawyers hold up the national flag as they assemble at the secretariat of the Nigerian Bar Association during a protest in Abuja over the suspension of Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) in Abuja on 28 January 2019. Picture: Sodiq Adelakun/AFP

LAGOS - Nigerian police have arrested three suspects in connection with the abduction of more than 100 students at a Baptist school two months ago, police said.

Gunmen stormed Bethel Baptist High School, abducting 121 students who were sleeping in their hostel on 5 July, on the outskirts of Kaduna city in northwestern Kaduna state.

Three of the captors have been arrested along with 47 other suspects accused of other crimes, national police spokesperson Frank Mba said late Thursday.

Armed gangs known locally as bandits have carried out a wave of kidnappings across northwest and central Nigeria, as well as looting and stealing cattle.

The gangs have recently targeted schools and colleges, abducting students to squeeze ransom payments from parents and authorities.

One of the three "carried out surveillance of the Bethel school and strategised with his other gang members before they attacked and abducted the students," Mba said.

"One AK47 rifle was recovered from each of the suspects," he added.

So far 100 of the kidnapped students have been freed or escaped. Twenty-one remain in captivity.

More than 1,000 students and pupils have been abducted in northern Nigeria since December, although most have been released after negotiations.

Last month, bandits freed 93 pupils abducted from an Islamic seminary in central Niger state after three months in captivity, following a ransom payment.

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