Over 317 girls were kidnapped from a boarding school, Government Girls Science Secondary School Jangebe, Zamfara, in northern Nigeria on Friday in the second mass abduction in the region in just over a week.
Local reports described how unidentified gunmen invaded Jangebe, a town in the northern state of Zamfara at around 2 am and snatched the girls, aged 12-17.
School kidnappings are becoming endemic in the region. Last week at least 40 people, including 27 students, were abducted in the state of Niger, 300 miles to the south. They are yet to be released.
“The Zamfara State Police Command in collaboration with the military have commenced a joint search and rescue operation with a view to rescuing the 317 students kidnapped by the armed bandits,” police said in a statement.
School officials say the gunmen invaded the town “in their hundreds” at around 2am Friday and “shot sporadically in the air to scare the residents”. The attackers then stormed the school.
A man whose two daughters attend the school corroborated the incident. Sadi Kawaye said he had been told that the school was “invaded by bandits”.
Another parent said his daughters, aged 10 and 13, were among those missing.
Newsonspot.com.ng reports that the Zamfara State Government has confirmed the abduction.
“It is true, gunmen kidnapped students,” Sulaiman Tunau Anka, the State Information Commissioner, confirmed. “They went to the school with vehicles. They forced some of the girls to trek.”
Security forces are now tracking the criminals, he added.
Same also confirmed by the Commissioner of Security and Home Affairs, Alhaji Abubakar Dauran in a brief interview in Gusau on Friday.
The United Nations Children’s Fund said they are “angered and saddened” by yet another “brutal attack on schoolchildren in Nigeria”.
This is the second such kidnapping in a little over a week in Nigeria’s north, where a surge in armed militancy in the northwest has led to a widespread and worsening breakdown of security.
Just over a week ago one student was killed and 42 people, including 27 students, taken from a boarding school in the north-central Nigerian state of Niger by an unidentified gunmen. The hostages are yet to be released.
Over 300 boys were kidnapped from a school in December in Kankara, President Muhammadu Buhari’s home state of Katsina, while he was visiting the region.
The incident triggered global outrage. Following negotiations with government officials the boys were later released.