Abducted Nigerian schoolgirls freed by kidnappers

Tearful parents embraced their daughters, as all 279 schoolgirls kidnapped in northwest Nigeria were freed by their abductors, the state governor announced on Tuesday (March 2).

Reuters journalists saw dozens of teenage girls, wearing blue head coverings and face masks, filling up a government hall.

Most appeared to be unharmed, but at least a dozen were sent to hospital for treatment.

Umma Abubakar recalls her experience:

"Most of us got injured on our feet and we could not continue trekking, so they (their captors) said they will shoot anybody who did not continue to walk. We walked across a river and they hid us and let us sleep under shrubs in a forest."

Gunmen raided the Government Girls Science Secondary (GGSS) School in the town of Jangebe at around 1.a.m on Friday.

Earlier reports said 317 girls were abducted, but the state governor said some hid in the bush and the 279 missing were now back home.

Balarabe Kagara was reunited with his 14-year-old daughters:

"I am very happy indeed, God has made this ordeal that we found ourselves in to come to an end, we are happy, we thank God for everything.''

The state governor said "repentant bandits" working with the government under an amnesty program had helped secure the girls' release.

Armed criminal groups have targeted Nigerian schools with mass kidnappings for ransom, in a trend started by the jihadist group Boko Haram.

President Muhammadu Buhari warned against paying ransoms to kidnappers, which the national government has denied doing.

He said ransom payments will continue to encourage kidnapping and urged the police and the military to bring the kidnappers to justice.

Video Transcript

- Tearful parents embraced their daughters, as all 279 schoolgirls kidnapped in northwest Nigeria were freed by their abductors, the state governor announced on Tuesday. Reuters journalists saw dozens of teenage girls, wearing blue head coverings and face masks, filling up a government hall. Most appeared to be unharmed, but at least a dozen were sent to hospital for treatment. Umma Abubakar recalls her experience,

[NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]

INTERPRETER: Most of us were wounded on our feet and we could not continue trekking, so the captors said they would shoot anybody who did not continue to walk. We walked across a river and they hit us and that's a sleep under shrubs in a forest.

- Gunmen raided the Government Girls Science Secondary School in the town of Jangebe at around 1:00 AM on Friday. Earlier reports said 317 girls were abducted, but the state governors said some hid in the bush and the 279 missing were now back home. Balarabe Kagara was reunited with his 14-year-old daughters.

INTERPRETER: I'm very happy indeed. God has made this ordeal that we found ourselves in come to an end. We are happy. We thank God for everything.

[NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]

- The state's governor said "repentant bandits" working with the government under an amnesty program had helped secure the girls' release. Armed criminal groups have targeted Nigerian schools with mass kidnapping for ransom, in a trend started by the jihadist group Boko Haram. President Muhammadu Buhari warned against paying ransoms to kidnappers, which the national government has denied doing. He said ransom payments will continue to encourage kidnapping and urged the police and the military to bring the kidnappers to justice.