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Mass wedding plans deferred in Nigeria, some girls, women marry privately

Mass wedding plans deferred in Nigeria, some girls, women marry privately

RELIGIOUS leaders and a state lawmaker suspended their plans for a mass wedding of 100 girls and young women in northwest Nigeria after it sparked outrage, but some were married in private ceremonies, the state assembly speaker and one of the girls said. The wedding plans in largely Muslim Niger state had drawn criticism from women's affairs minister Uju Kennedy-Ohanenye and a local rights group that launched a petition to stop the ceremony. Critics feared the girls, some of them orphans, could be underage. A team from the Ministry of Women's Affairs visited Niger on Thursday and Friday and met state assembly…
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Nigerian gunmen seek talks after abducting dozens, families say

Nigerian gunmen seek talks after abducting dozens, families say

GUNMEN who abducted 105 people in northwest Nigeria last week are not after ransom payments but negotiations with the Zamfara state government, five families of the victims who were contacted by the armed men said on Monday. Armed gangs continue to terrorise northern Nigeria, abducting villagers, students and motorists for ransom. The gunmen attacked the villages of Gora, Madomawa and Jambuzu in Zamfara's Birnin-Magaji local government area on Friday night, seizing dozens of residents. Bello Mohammed, whose wife, three children and young brother were among those taken from Gora, said he received a call on Saturday night from people who said they…
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Gunmen kidnap 80, including children, in northwest Nigeria

Gunmen kidnap 80, including children, in northwest Nigeria

ARDO HAZZAD GUNMEN abducted at least 80 people, mostly women and children, in Nigeria's Zamfara state, a hotspot for kidnappings for ransom by armed gangs targeting remote villages, residents said. Gangs of armed men have attacked hundreds of local communities across northwestern Nigeria in recent years, while Islamist militants continue to stage attacks in the northeast. The latest kidnapping took place on Friday in Wanzamai village in Tsafe local government area in Zamfara, three residents said. Zamfara is one of the states most affected by kidnappings. Musa Usman, whose 14-year-old son Ibrahim was among those abducted, said children and women…
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Catholic priest burned to death in Nigeria

Catholic priest burned to death in Nigeria

GUNMEN burned a Catholic priest to death and shot and injured his colleague in northwest Nigeria, police said, the latest violence raising concerns about security ahead of an election next month. Nigerians will vote for a new president on February 25 but kidnappings for ransom and killings by armed gangs in the north have led to fears that polls may not be held in some areas. The motive for the latest attack was not immediately clear but gunmen have previously targeted priests in the largely Muslim north. Wasiu Abiodun, police spokesperson for Niger state, said in a statement that armed…
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Anguish for families of 300 abducted Nigerian girls

Anguish for families of 300 abducted Nigerian girls

SEAN SANNI and AFOLABI SOTUNDE RELATIVES of more than 300 girls abducted by gunmen from their boarding school in northwest Nigeria endured an agonising wait for news amid rumours that they had been released, while security forces continued their search. An armed gang kidnapped 317 girls from the Government Girls Science Secondary School in the town of Jangebe, in Zamfara state, at around 1 a.m. on Friday. Two Reuters' correspondents saw a heavy military presence in state capital Gusau on Sunday, with army trucks moving in convoy and police checkpoints on major roads. Zamfara police have worked alongside the army…
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Kidnapped Nigerian students beg for help

Kidnapped Nigerian students beg for help

GARBA MUHAMMAD A video of some of the students kidnapped from a college in northwest Nigeria emerged on Saturday, showing them cowering on a forest floor as armed captors hit them with sticks. Thirty nine students are missing after gunmen stormed the Federal College of Forestry Mechanization in Kaduna state overnight on Thursday, the fourth school abduction in northern Nigeria since December. Video footage shared on social media showed roughly two dozen students begging for help in English and Hausa. One says the captors want a 500 million naira ($1.31 million) ransom. "If anybody comes to rescue them without the…
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School term delayed in Nigerian capital zone amid kidnapping crisis

School term delayed in Nigerian capital zone amid kidnapping crisis

THE start of the school term has been pushed back to an unusually late date in Nigeria's Federal Capital Territory (FCT) without explanation, after schools in nearby states were targeted by kidnappers seeking ransoms. More than 1,100 pupils have been abducted from their schools across northwest Nigeria since December, including in the states of Kaduna and Niger, which border the FCT to the north and west. Several parents in the FCT told Reuters their children had turned up at their schools this week expecting lessons to start only to be told the new term would not commence until Sept. 19.…
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Kidnappers demand food for children seized in Nigeria school raid

Kidnappers demand food for children seized in Nigeria school raid

KIDNAPPERS who abducted more than 100 students from a boarding school in Nigeria's Kaduna state warned that the children could starve unless parents supply them with food, parents and the head of the Kaduna Baptist conference have. The Baptist official said about 125 students are missing, while at least 28 were reunited with their families, after the overnight raid on the Bethel Baptist High School early this week, the 10th mass school kidnapping since December in northwest Nigeria. Parents of those missing told Reuters that the kidnappers promised the children would be safe if parents delivered rice, beans, palm oil,…
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Kidnaps could create lost generation of students

Kidnaps could create lost generation of students

LIBBY GEORGE and ABRAHAM ACHIRGA Yusuf Lado had not yet learned to read or write when his school closed for fear of attacks by armed gangs, which have been snatching students across northwest Nigeria in hopes of lucrative ransom payouts. The 7-year-old has now set aside his dream of becoming a doctor and is training to be a welder, despite his slight build. "I hope to perfect this work I'm learning and be as good as my boss," he told Reuters late last month at his new workplace on the outskirts of the Kaduna state capital. Humanitarian agencies warn that…
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Parents plea for  return of 150 abducted students

Parents plea for return of 150 abducted students

DOZENS of distraught parents gathered at the Bethel High School in northwestern Nigeria, some weeping and crying out, standing in groups awaiting news about the 150 students who were kidnapped by armed men. Discarded sandals lay strewn nearby. Dormitories containing metal bunk beds and cupboards were deserted. "May God take away their tears and the suffering that they will face in the hands of the kidnappers," said a woman pointing at a hole in the school's perimeter where the attackers entered. His voice breaking, parent John Evans said he had recently told his daughter that God would protect her while…
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