Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau in a 2018 video capture accompanied by four members of the group.HANDOUT / Reuters
The terrorist group Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of more than 300 students in northern Nigeria on Tuesday.
"I am Abubakar Shekau and our brothers are behind the kidnapping of Katsina," says a voice of a man who introduces himself as the leader of Boko Haram in a four and a half minute audio message broadcast through the group's usual channels. terrorist.
"What happened in Katsina has been to promote Islam and discourage anti-Islamic practices such as Western education, which is not the type of education allowed by Allah and his prophet [Muhammad]," says Shekau in his claim.
The events occurred last Friday when dozens of men on motorcycles and armed with AK-47 rifles attacked the Government Science Secondary School, a male institute located in the town of Kankara, in the state of Katsina, in the northwest of the country. .
After a shooting, dozens of teenagers were kidnapped, of whom at least 333 are still missing, as reported by the state governor.
The testimonies of the young people who were able to escape reveal that many students fled in terror to a nearby forest, but hundreds were caught by the attackers, who led them first in buses and then on foot, separated in several groups towards an unknown place.
At first, the abduction was attributed to “bandits”, a generic term used by the authorities to refer to armed gangs that have been operating in northern Nigeria for years, dedicated to robbery and kidnapping with great violence.
The authorities assured this Monday that the attackers were located and surrounded.
If the responsibility is confirmed, this action would indicate the expansion of the operational capacity of this criminal organization that traditionally operates in the northeast of Nigeria, especially in Borno and the vicinity of Lake Chad, and that could be in the process of geographical expansion.
In the past year, violence has escalated in the northern and northwestern states involving gangs of armed criminals and self-defense groups of herders and farmers, pitted against each other over resources.
However, for months now, numerous experts point to a possible expansion of terrorist activity in this area, both from neighboring Niger and by Boko Haram, whose main fiefdom is hundreds of kilometers away.
This terrorist group, which has been the protagonist of one of the bloodiest terrorist insurgencies in Africa since 2009, the year in which Abubakar Shekau assumes command of the organization, has shown special activity in recent weeks as it is responsible for the massacre of more than a hundred of agricultural workers in Maiduguri, some of them beheaded, in Borno State, at the end of November, and of an attack near Diffa, in neighboring Niger, where 28 people were killed, most of them burned alive.
In the last 11 years, Boko Haram and its Islamic State of West Africa split, as well as the military response to combat them, have caused some 36,000 deaths and two million displaced, affecting Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon and Chad.
Boko Haram was also the terrorist group responsible for the kidnapping of the 276 girls from Chibok, which bears enormous similarities to this one from Katsina.
It happened in 2014 and the whereabouts of 112 of the young women are still unknown.
The rest have been released through military operations or negotiation processes after years of captivity during which they were forcibly married or used as sex slaves by terrorists.
Many of them became pregnant and gave birth during this period.