Kidnappers in Nigeria demand a ransom in exchange for the release of 80 schoolchildren.

According to a pastor involved in the negotiations for the release of around 80 children kidnapped from a boarding school in northern Nigeria last month, kidnappers are demanding a ransom of one million naira per child.

The attack on Bethel Baptist High School in Kaduna state was the 10th mass school kidnapping in north-west Nigeria since December, which authorities have blamed on criminal gangs seeking ransom payments.

“(Bandits) are asking for one million naira on each of the 80 students remaining with them,” Reverend Ite Joseph Hayab told Reuters by telephone.

Kidnappers released 28 children last month after a first batch of 28 was released two days after the raid. But another 81 remain in captivity.

According to Hayab, three students escaped before the 28 were released last month, but they were kidnapped again in the forest by an unidentified person who demanded a ransom and was paid over one million naira by parents.

Nigerian authorities have blamed the kidnappings on armed bandits seeking ransom payments.

Armed groups in northern Nigeria have turned schools into targets for mass kidnappings for ransom. Such kidnappings were first carried out in Nigeria by the jihadist group Boko Haram, and later by its offshoot Islamic State West Africa Province, but the tactic has since been adopted by other criminal gangs.

($1 = 411.00 naira)

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