Nigerian police have arrested three suspects in the kidnapping of more than 100 students at a Baptist school two months ago, police said.
Gunmen stormed Bethel Baptist High School, kidnapping 121 students sleeping in their dormitory on July 5, on the outskirts of Kaduna town in Kaduna state, in northwestern Nigeria.
Three of the kidnappers have been arrested along with 47 other suspects charged with other crimes, national police spokesman Frank Mba said late Thursday.
The armed gang, known locally as bandits, have carried out a wave of kidnappings in northwestern and central Nigeria, as well as looting and stealing livestock. The gangs later targeted schools and colleges, kidnapping students to extort ransom payments from parents and authorities.
One of the three suspects “observed Bethel’s school and strategized with the rest of his gang before they attacked and kidnapped the students,” Mba said. “One AK47 rifle was recovered from each suspect,” he added.
So far, 100 abducted students have been released or fled. The other twenty-one are still being held by the kidnappers.
More than 1,000 students have been kidnapped in northern Nigeria since last December, although most have been released after negotiations.
Last month, bandits released 93 students kidnapped from an Islamic madrasa in the central Nigerian state of Niger after three months in detention, following a ransom payment. [lt/uh]