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Escaped Schoolboy Talks About Kidnap Ordeal

Escaped Schoolboy Talks About Kidnap Ordeal
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A Nigerian schoolboy who escaped capture from Boko Haram jihadist rebels has spoken about his kidnapping and escape.

Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for abducting more than 330 children from a school in Nigeria's northern Katsina State last Friday, in one of the largest such attacks in years.

One of the schoolboys, 17-year-old Usama Aminu, told The Associated Press some of those involved were "younger than us."

"After we scaled the fence we were hearing voices that we should come back - thinking they were police officers, unknown to us it was the bandits. They then gathered us at a spot, that was when we realised they were bandits wearing military uniform," he said.

"We walked through the night in the bush, and at sunrise they found a place and asked us to sit down," Aminu said.

Aminu, who suffers from sickle cell anaemia, recently transferred to the Government Science Secondary School to be closer home and receive medical care for his condition.

A joint rescue operation was launched on Saturday by Nigeria’s police, air force and army after the military engaged in gunfights with bandits after locating their hideout in the Zango/Paula forest.

"When the bandits heard the sound of the helicopter hovering above they ask us to lay down under the large trees with our face to the ground," Aminu said.

Exhausted from the trek, he held onto the shoulders of two friends "as the bandits continue to flog people from the back so that they can move faster."

Despite his condition, he managed to stray from the group at another stopping point and found a mosque to hide inside.

He was discovered by locals who heard him coughing, and offered him a change of clothes from his school uniform to disguise him.

His father was relieved to have his son returned Sunday evening.

Aminu Ma'le said that he was very happy his son made it home, but added: "I cannot celebrate alone because of the other boys still missing."

Katsina State governor Aminu Bello Masari said that 17 boys have been rescued since the attack, including 15 by the military, another by police and one boy found roaming in the forest who was brought in by residents.

On the day of the attack, hundreds of other students managed to escape by jumping the fence during the extremists' attack or by fleeing as they were taken into the nearby forest.

The government and the attackers are negotiating the fate of the boys, according to Garba Shehu, a spokesman for Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari.

Katsina State shut down all its boarding schools after the attack on the secondary school at Kankara.

The government of Zamfara State, next to Katsina, has closed 10 schools as a precaution.