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Gunmen kidnap 317 young girls from boarding school in Nigeria
26 February 2021, 22:00
Gunmen have kidnapped 317 young girls from a boarding school in northern Nigeria in the latest in a series of mass abductions in the country.
Police spokesman Mohammed Shehu said officers and the military in Zamfara state are working together to rescue the girls after they were taken at Girls Science Secondary School in the town of Jangebe.
The attackers also targeted a nearby military camp and checkpoint to prevent soldiers from intervening while the gunmen spent several hours taking the girls from the school, according to resident Musa Mustapha.
One parent, Nasiru Abdullahi, said his two daughters, aged 10 and 13, are among the missing.
"It is disappointing that even though the military has a strong presence near the school they were unable to protect the girls," he said.
"At this stage, we are only hoping on divine intervention."
Several gangs of armed men, described by the government as bandits, operate in the state.
They are notorious for mass abductions as a means of extortion or the release of their members from jail.
Peter Hawkins, Unicef's representative in the country, called for the girls to be released immediately and said the "yet another brutal attack" had left him and others "angered and saddened".
"This is a gross violation of children's rights and a horrific experience for children to go through," he added.
Nigeria has seen several such attacks and kidnappings in recent years, most notably the mass abduction in April 2014 of 276 girls from a secondary school in Chibok, Borno state, by the jihadist group Boko Haram.
More than one hundred of the girls are still missing.
Friday's kidnapping came less than two weeks after gunmen abducted 42 people, including 27 students, from the Government Science College Kagara in Niger State.
The students, teachers and family members are still being held.
In December, 344 students were abducted from the Government Science Secondary School Kankara in Katsina State. They were eventually released.
Anietie Ewang, Nigeria researcher at Human Rights Watch, noted the recent abductions and tweeted that "strong action is required from the authorities to turn the tide & keep schools safe."
Amnesty International also condemned the "appalling attack," warning in a statement that "the girls abducted are in serious risk of being harmed".
Teachers have been forced to flee to other states for protection, and many children have had to abandon their education amid frequent violent attacks in communities, Amnesty said.