Three people suspected of kidnapping more than 100 students from a Christian school in northwest Nigeria two months ago have been arrested, police announced Thursday evening.
On July 5, gunmen stormed the boarding school at Bethel Secondary School, on the outskirts of Kaduna town, and abducted 121 students who were sleeping in their rooms.
“Three of the key suspects involved in the kidnapping of students from Bethel Baptist High School have been arrested,” Nigerian police spokesman Frank Mba said in a statement.
According to him, one of the three suspects “took care of the surveillance of the school and consulted with the other members of his gang before attacking and kidnapping the students”. An AK47 assault rifle was found in each of the three suspects, he added, adding that the investigation was still ongoing.
Since July 5, 100 students have been released or managed to escape, while 21 still remain in the hands of their captors.
This mass kidnapping was part of a series of kidnappings carried out for months by armed criminal groups, operating in northwest and central Nigeria.
These groups which carry out looting, attacks and kidnappings, are primarily motivated by the lure of profit. They target schoolchildren and students to obtain ransoms and a priori have no ideological motivation, unlike the jihadist groups that are rampant in Nigeria.
About 1,000 schoolchildren and students have been kidnapped since December, when gangs started attacking schools. Most were released after negotiations but hundreds remain prisoners in camps hidden in forests.
Last month, nearly 100 students from a private Muslim school who were kidnapped in western Nigeria in May were reunited with their parents.
Boko Haram Islamists are the first to kidnap schools, with the kidnapping of more than 200 young girls from their dormitory in Chibok in 2014, sparking global public opinion.