UN welcomes release of abducted Nigerian teenagers

The United Nations has welcomed the release of 21 teenagers – most of them girls – abducted by gunmen in the north-western state of Katsina.

The victims were working on a farm when they were seized by armed kidnappers last week in Faskari area.

In a statement, the UN children’s agency, Unicef, says the news of their release is “pleasant”.

But it adds that the children shouldn’t have been kidnapped in the first place, saying “no one, especially children should be a target of abduction or violence of any kind”.

The UN agency has offered to support the Katsina state government to rehabilitate the freed hostages.

State police spokesperson Gambo Isa told the BBC the victims were aged 15 to 18. Seventeen of them were females.

He declined to say whether a ransom was paid but added that the underage farm workers were targeted after the farm owner refused to pay a levy imposed on farmers by gangs.

The Nigerian authorities have been struggling to tackle the country’s widespread insecurity with armed gangs kidnapping people for ransom. Schoolchildren have been frequently targeted in the past.

Nigeria is due to hold presidential elections in February and the insecurity is one of the key issues dominating the campaigns.

BBC Africa

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