An update on the 140 students who were kidnapped from a Christian school on Monday 5 July, 125 of whom remain captive.
Open Doors has heard that 125 students remain in captivity, after the kidnapping from Bethel Baptist School on Monday 6 July. It is not clear how some students have managed to be reunited with their families, but a local Baptist leader, Reverend I.A. Jangado, gave a statement that "Search and rescue operations are ongoing and we strongly believe that these students will safely return to their parents soon." In the meantime, authorities have ordered schools in the area to close.
Parents have been instructed by the kidnappers to provide food, to ensure their children are fed. "Kidnappers promised the children would be safe if parents delivered rice, beans, palm oil, salt and stock cubes. They said abductors told them that a ransom demand would follow," report Reuters.
Please keep praying for the welfare and safe return of these missing children, and for God's peace to be in the hearts of their waiting parents.
It’s one of the worst phone calls a parent could possibly receive. “Just this morning at about six o’clock, I received a phone call that kidnappers have entered the school,” John Evans told Nigerian media yesterday (5 July). “And that all our children were taken, including my daughter. We rushed down to the school, and it was confirmed that they are all gone.”
"We have no idea where the students were taken" Emmanuel Paul, teacher
John Evans is one of many parents of students at Bethel Baptist High School who received similar, devastating phone calls on Monday 5 July. It’s a Christian boarding school in Kaduna State, northern Nigeria.
In the early hours of that morning, a group of unidentified men attacked the school with guns, overpowered the security guards, and abducted most of the students boarding there.
“The kidnappers took away 140 students, only 25 students escaped,” says Emmanuel Paul, a teacher at the school. “We still have no idea where the students were taken.”
As the distraught parents gathered at the school, waiting for news, one of the mothers prayed aloud for the missing children: “May God take away their tears and the suffering that they will face in the hands of the kidnappers.”
Sadly, this is not an isolated incident. There have been at least three other mass school kidnappings in Kaduna State in 2021, and more than 1,000 students have been taken in abductions across northern Nigeria in that time. Tragically, nine have been killed – and more than 200 are still missing, some of them as young as three.
"The price Nigerian children and families pay for this insecurity is absolutely unacceptable" Jo Newhouse, Open Doors spokesperson
“So far, no one has claimed responsibility for the abduction of Bethel Baptist High School students, but it is assumed to be the work of so-called bandits,” says Jo Newhouse, the spokesperson for Open Doors’ work in sub-Saharan Africa. Groups like this don’t have a formal connection with Islamic militant groups like Boko Haram, but it seems increasingly likely that Boko Haram and other groups are informally connected with, and influencing, kidnappers as part of an expansionist agenda.
Monday's school abduction came just hours after gunmen snatched a nurse's one-year-old child and up to seven other people from a Kaduna health centre, according to police. Assailants also attacked a nearby police station at the time of that kidnapping to prevent officers from stopping the abduction at the health centre.
We will update this post as we hear more updates from Kaduna.
“An increasing level of insecurity, violence and impunity means fundamental rights are being severely violated,” continues Newhouse. “The price Nigerian children and families pay for this insecurity is absolutely unacceptable.
“Open Doors calls on the Nigerian government to ensure the respect and protection of the right to education of Nigerian children by urgently acting to restore security to schools in northern Nigeria. There should be a comprehensive plan that will ensure children’s safe return to school, provide support to the victims of abductions and their families, investigate the attacks and hold those responsible to account."
Explore Among the Ashes, a new film and prayer resource for churches from Open Doors. It looks at how the biblical principle of lament can bring us hope and comfort, even in the darkest situations.
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