By Stefan J. Bos, Special Correspondent Worthy News
(Worthy News) - Families of more than 300 Nigerian kidnapped schoolboys fear they may face similar pressures as Christian schoolgirls abducted earlier by Islamist militants.
Parents said they are worried the boys may be radicalized or held for years. Islamist group Boko Haram, which means “Western education is forbidden,” claimed responsibility for last week’s abductions.
Boko Haram reportedly raided the all-boys school in Nigeria’s town of Kankara in northwestern Katsina state amid part of its destabilization campaign. Parents have urged the government to intervene as the Islamists have a history of turning children into hardline fighters.
“They will radicalize our children if the government does not act fast to help us rescue them,” warned trader Shuaibu Kankara. Reuters news agency said he was crying as he spoke from home. His 13-year-old son Annas was among those abducted from the Government Science school on Friday night.
Two other sons reportedly managed to escape when men on motorbikes with AK-47 assault rifles stormed the school and marched the boys into a forest.
The abduction echoed Boko Haram’s 2014 kidnapping of more than 270 schoolgirls in the northeastern town of Chibok. The attack gave rise to a global #BringBackOurGirls campaign. Six years later, about half the girls have been found or freed.
Others were married off to fighters, while some are assumed to be dead. Many were forced to abandon their faith in Christ and turn to Islam, video footage and other sources showed.
However, “We pray it’s not going to be another situation of the Chibok girls’ abduction,” Ahmed Bakori told reporters. The farmer’s 14-year-old son Abubakar was among those taken and facing an uncertain future in the troubled area.
The kidnappings are part of a violent campaign by Boko Haram militants who oppose secular authority and want to “purify” Islam, especially northern Nigeria.
They also oppose anything being “influenced by the West,” including voting and secular education. Boko Haram has been fighting the Nigerian state since 2009 through an escalating campaign of bomb attacks, hit-and-run raids of towns and villages. Militants have captured and occupied larger cities in the north-east, where Christians and moderate Muslims are among those being targeted by the group.