'Day of joy': Kidnapped Nigerian schoolchildren rescued by army

More than 130 schoolchildren kidnapped by gunmen in northwestern Nigeria earlier this month were released unharmed on Sunday, officials and the army said.

The mass abduction in Kuriga, Kaduna state on March 7 was one of the biggest attacks on a school in years and sparked a national outcry over insecurity.

The army said the hostages were freed in the early hours during a rescue operation.

Spokesman Major General Edward Buba shared photos of children wearing dust-coated uniforms in buses.

"The rescued hostages totalling 137 comprise of 76 females and 61 males. They were rescued in Zamfara State and would be conveyed and handed over to the Kaduna State Government for further action," he said.

Teachers and residents previously said around 280 pupils between the ages of eight and 15 were kidnapped when armed criminals known in Nigeria as bandits stormed the school on motorbikes.

Discrepancies between the number of people kidnapped and released are common in Nigeria due to unclear early reports and the return of those who go missing while fleeing attacks.

But it was not clear why there was such a large difference between the figures this time.

Buba told AFP that "all the captives had been rescued".

He said no troops had been wounded but did not comment further, citing what he called the "ongoing operation".

'Day of joy'


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