KATSINA, Nigeria—More than 300 Nigerian boys were reunited with their parents Friday, a week after militants stormed their dormitories in one of the largest kidnappings of schoolchildren in history.
There were emotional scenes at the Hajj camp in the city of Katsina as parents and their sons clutched in tearful embraces. The schoolboys, many of whom looked dazed and exhausted after six days in captivity, had spent hours being shuttled between press conferences with local politicians and President Muhammadu Buhari before seeing their families shortly after nightfall.
The governor of Katsina state, Aminu Bello Masari, said all 344 kidnapped boys had been freed after their six-day captivity, a claim several of those rescued confirmed.
It wasn’t immediately clear how those statements lined up with earlier testimonies from some of their classmates who had managed to escape and said a head count done by their captors as they marched through a thick forest revealed more than 500 hostages.
One of the rescued boys, Abdurauf Isa, still wearing the purple-and-white-checkered school uniform of the Government Science Secondary School in Kankara, said he was relieved their ordeal had ended. “We suffered in the hands of our abductors, but they gave us food to eat,” the 16-year-old said Friday. “We ate raw local potatoes and drank water from the stream.”