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Kankara Schoolboys’ Abduction: For Recruitment or Ransom?

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On Friday 11th December, gunmen on motorcycles attacked the Government Science Secondary School, Kankara, Katsina State and abducted at least 300 students.

The actual number of students kidnapped in the attack has been a subject of controversy as different sources have claimed dissimilar figures. The Katsina state government says there are 333 missing students, but a boy who escaped from the clutches of the kidnappers said there were about 520 students altogether. Other sources have claimed higher or lesser figures.

On News Central’s Village Square Africa on Tuesday, Abayomi Azikiwe, Editor of the Pan-African Newswire and Kabir Adamu, a security expert gave their opinions and information about the current situation.

In the early hours of Tuesday, Abujbakar Shekau, leader of a faction of Boko Haram terrorists laid claim to the abduction of the students.

Adamu said going by the details he was given by one of the boys who luckily escaped, those who carried out the kidnap were bandits.

Typical of a kidnap-for-ransom dare-devilry that has infiltrated into Nigeria’s northwestern region, the bandits asked for the students whose parents are rich. He said the bandits also asked for the whereabout of girls, indicating their ignorance of the nature of the school they attacked.

In another opinion, Azikiwe said the footprints of the attack has a semblance with Boko Haram’s, as seen in 2014 during the abduction of the Chibok girls.

Boko Haram terrorists look out for soft targets like residents of local communities, market dwellers and students. Adamu added that President Muhammadu Buhari has not lived up to his promise of quelling insecurity, and that has been a stain on his administration.

Azikiwe added that the kidnap may be an attempt to recruit the boys into the ranks of Boko Haram as terrorists and charged the Nigerian government to ensure their safety.

Adamu further disclosed that the bandits are in the Rugu Forest area where they’re hiding. He said the federal government must stop any advancement being planned by the bandits as they’ll divide the students, and make military rescue operations even tougher .

He advised Buhari to show empathy, reassure the parents of the kidnapped students and hold someone responsible for the carelessness and laxity that led to the mass abduction of school boys.

The real intent for the attack is not clear yet, and the real attackers could still be in hiding. The Katsina State government has however claimed that a parent has been reached by bandits and they asked that their ransoms should be prepared, and warned the government against the surveillance of their area.

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Semi Ajayi Trumps Boly as West Brom Beat Wolves 3-2

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Nigeria’s Super Eagles defender, Semi Ajayi, continued his scoring form for West Brom in the Baggies 3-2 away victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers at the Molineux Stadium.

Ajayi, who has had success in front of goal this season, grabbed the equaliser for his side who were trailing 2-1 by halftime.

The 27-year-old Nigerian scored in West Brom’s draw against Liverpool last month while he was also on target in the FA Cup loss to Blackpool last weekend. He also had an effort ruled as a Ruben Dias own goal in the Baggies draw against Manchester City at the Etihad. His goal on Saturday afternoon was his second in 17 league matches.

West Brom’s Matheus Pereira scored twice from the spot to give Allardyce his first victory as the club’s manager.

The result gave West Brom a big boost in their bid to avoid relegation, as they moved to within three points of 17th place, albeit remaining stuck in 19th spot for now. Wolves stay in 14th place.

“It’s massive. If there was one game to change our season, this is the game. It’s the one fans look forward to the most,” West Brom midfielder Romaine Sawyers told BT Sport.

“We had seven days with the gaffer. This was the first time really on the training ground, getting back to basics… He’s a bit tough on us, but it’s not a happy situation we’re in, so we need that tough love.”

West Brom opened the scoring when centre back Willy Boly fouled Callum Robinson in the seventh minute on the edge of the box and Pereira stepped up to convert the penalty, sending Wolves keeper Rui Patricio the wrong way.

Boly made amends later when his back-heeled pass in the box freed up Fabio Silva, who side-footed the ball past David Button for the 18-year-old’s first goal at home.

Minutes later, Boly made it 2-1 when the ball fell to him during a corner kick, leaving Button no chance to make a save as the defender scored from six yards out.

West Brom turned things around with two quick-fire goals after the restart, the first from a long throw-in when Kyle Bartley’s flicked header allowed Semi Ajayi to loop his header past Patricio.

The visitors sealed the win when Robinson won another penalty after drawing a foul from defender Conor Coady and Pereira scored from the spot again.

“We wanted to control the game and be aggressive in defence and we didn’t do it,” Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo said.

“Two penalties and a throw-in. We knew we required better defending. We must rectify it and do better.”

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UN Peacekeeper Dies After Vehicle Strikes Landmine in Mali

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A United Nations peacekeeper has died in northern Mali after his vehicle struck a landmine, a statement said on Saturday.

The statement, issued by the United Nation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), said that the second of the two peacekeepers in the vehicle was seriously injured.

Mahamat Saleh Annadif, MINUSMA Head, said the peacekeeping mission’s tanker truck, which was part of a logistics convoy, drove over the mine near the town of Tessalit in the Kidal region.

While securing the site of the incident, peacekeepers detected a second explosive device and neutralized it, the statement added.

Mali’s central and north have experienced regular flare-ups of violent attacks following a 2012 military coup that saw separatist rebel groups and later al-Qaeda-associated militants take control of the region.

French and African military operations, alongside the Malian Army’s efforts scattered militants and restored government control over the area.

Rebel activities and military operations have, however, continued in some areas in spite of signing of various peace agreements.

MINUSMA is supporting the Malian Army and France’s Operation Barkhane in securing the volatile region.

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Three UN Peacekeepers Killed Injured in Mali, CAR in 3 Days

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No fewer than three UN peacekeepers were reportedly killed and four others injured in separate attacks in the Central African Republic (CAR) and Mali over the past three days.

According to the United Nations, the deceased peacekeepers were from Rwanda, Burundi and Egypt while the nationalities of those wounded have not been disclosed.

The UN said the latest attack, which occurred on Friday near Tessalit, a village in the Kidal region of Mali, targeted a convoy of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).

An Egyptian peacekeeper died and another was seriously injured in that incident, UN spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, said in a statement on Saturday.

Earlier on Friday, a peacekeeper from Burundi was killed and two others injured in an attack by combatants in CAR.

That attack targeted a convoy of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in CAR (MINUSCA) in Grimari, a city in the Ouaka prefecture.

It followed a similar attack by rebel fighters near the capital, Bangui, on Wednesday that left a Rwandan peacekeeper dead and another wounded.

Reports say violence has intensified in parts of the Central African Republic over the Dec. 27 presidential and legislative elections.

Armed groups opposed to the re-election of President Faustin-Archange Touadera, are alleged to be behind the attacks.

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said the worsening post-election violence had forced no fewer than 120,000 people from their homes.

In different statements, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres strongly condemned all the attacks and called for action to bring the perpetrators to justice.

He emphasised that attacks against United Nations peacekeepers might constitute a war crime.

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