Military Mulls Seeking Help from US AFRICOM to Rescue Abducted Pupils

The military is considering many options, including seeking external help, to rescue over 300 schoolboys of Government Science Secondary School (GSSS) Kankara, Katsina State.

A top military officer confided in newsmen yesterday that one of the options being considered is for the federal government to seek assistance from the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) to launch a rescue bid leveraging on its sophisticated technology for such operation.

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Besides, the military also dismissed claims by Boko Haram that it masterminded the abduction of the pupils last Friday.

It described the claim of the terror organisation, made yesterday by its acclaimed leader, Mr. Abubakar Shekau, as mere propaganda.

Amidst efforts to rescue the pupils, Katsina State Governor, Hon. Aminu Masari, said 17 pupils, out of the 333 schoolboys he had earlier said could not be accounted for had escaped from their captors.

Another report, however, claimed that two of the abductees might have been killed.

The Senate has, however, summoned the defence minister and security chiefs over the abduction of the Katsina pupils.

We gathered that in addition to the ongoing joint operation launched by the military and other security agencies, rescuing the pupils would be faster with help from AFRICOM.

AFRICOM had recently alerted Nigeria and other West African nations that ISIS, al-Qaeda and other terror groups were making inroads into the West African sub-region, exploiting local differences and collaborating with affiliates.

The United States Special Forces recently rescued an American kidnapped from a farm in Niger Republic in Sokoto State.

During the operations, the Special Forces killed six of the kidnappers, four from Niger and two from Nigeria.

We gathered that the federal government may be reaching out to the US government (AFRICOM) in view of its recent intelligence alert on the movement of terror groups to the sub-region.

“At many levels, strategic levels there is a flurry of activities to rescue the children safely and keep the peace of the nation,” the source added.

The source said the military was looking at many options irrespective of ongoing negotiations with the kidnappers.

The source also dismissed claims by Boko Haram that it staged the kidnap of the Katsina students as propaganda.

He said: “We have our constitutional mandate, which we are pursuing. We are not discouraging other options, be it negotiations or any other thing.

“We are focused on the rescue of the children, having established location. The issue of collateral damage is also being looked at. The safety of the children is paramount.”

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