UNICEF hails release of abducted hostages in Nigeria

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on Saturday welcomed the release of abducted hostages from a boarding school in north-central Nigeria.

“I am relieved to receive the long-awaited news of the release of 27 students of the Government Science College in Kagara abducted from their school over a week ago and I look forward to their safe return to their families,” Peter Hawkins, representative for UNICEF Nigeria, said in a statement.

“As the freed students return to their families, I commiserate with the family of their fallen school mate, Benjamin Habila, who was shot dead during the overnight attack on the school. My thoughts and prayers are with the family of Benjamin, who has suffered a huge loss,” said Hawkins.

“Attacks on educational facilities are a grave violation of children’s rights. Children should never be the target of the attack and yet, far too often in Nigeria, they are precisely that — victims of attacks on their schools,” he added.

On Feb. 17, a group of gunmen stormed the boarding school in Kagara town of the Rafi local government area of the Niger state, abducting 42 people, including 27 students, three school staffers and 12 family members of school staff, and killing one student.