Some of the 39 students, including 23 females, who gunmen abducted from a school in Nigeria’s Kaduna state last week were seen begging for help and beaten with sticks in a video that emerged on social media over the weekend.
“They are going to kill us” if a ransom is not paid, one of the students said in the video that emerged Saturday.
According to Reuters, the 39 students went missing after gunmen stormed the Federal College of Forestry Mechanization in the Afaka region of the Igabi local government area of Kaduna last Thursday. The kidnapping marked the fourth school-related abduction in Nigeria since December.
The video footage shows roughly two dozen students speaking in English and Hausa. A male student reportedly said that the captors want a 500 million naira (the equivalent of about $1.31 million) ransom for their release.
“If anybody comes to rescue them without the money, they are going to kill us,” the student was quoted as saying.
The National Defence College, which houses over 3,500 trainee officers, is a few hundred meters from the Federal College of Forestry Mechanization.
No group has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the perpetrators initially rounded up more than 200 students, but soldiers from the Nigerian army managed to rescue 180 students after engaging the kidnappers in combat. The 39 others remained missing.
While Nigerian officials deny they pay to free hostages, security analysts say kidnapping for ransom is becoming a lucrative industry in the West African nation.
Weapons are easily available in Nigeria thanks to war-torn Libya.
According to the Wall Street Journal, a kidnapper who recently turned himself into the government in exchange for amnesty said that buying guns in the country’s north is now like “buying bread,” according to the Wall Street Journal.
On Sunday, Kaduna state Commissioner of Internal Security Samuel Aruwan announced that police and military forces repelled attacks against another school and a local government office near an airport in Kaduna. He said that all 307 students at the Government Science Secondary School in Ikara were accounted for, Reuters reports.
Last month, gunmen kidnapped about 279 girls between the ages of 11 and 17 from Government Girls Science School in the Jangebe area of Zamfara state.
They were released days later. One of the girls who was released reported that a ransom had been paid for their release.
“I am elated. We thank God. We thank God,” Habib Abdullahi, whose three daughters were kidnapped, was quoted as saying at the time.
Umma Abubakar, another one of the kidnapped girls, shared with reporters details of the abduction, according to CNN.
“Most of us got injured on our feet, and we could not continue trekking, so they [the captors] said they will shoot anybody who did not continue to walk,” Abubakar recalled. “We walked across a river and they hid us and let us sleep under shrubs in a forest.”
On Dec. 11, gunmen captured an unknown number of boarding school students — possibly as many as 500 — from Kankara Government Science Secondary School in Katsina state. Boko Haram, one of the world’s deadliest Islamic terror groups, claimed responsibility for the attack.
The terrorists released a six-minute ransom video featuring Boko Haram's black-and-white flag. The footage showed a large crowd of boys in the forest surrounded by masked gunmen. As one of the boys speaks to the camera, music is played in the background. Later that month, security forces rescued 344 of the kidnapped students.
The recent wave of school kidnappings follows the abduction of 276 Nigerian schoolgirls from a school in Chibok in 2014. The abduction gained international attention, and the #BringBackOurGirls campaign was launched. About 112 of the Chibok schoolgirls remain missing.
The Global Terrorism Index ranks Nigeria as the country third most affected by terrorism globally as over 22,000 people were killed by acts of terror from 2001 to 2019.