Gunmen take 317 schoolgirls hostage in Nigeria's latest mass abduction

Gunmen take 317 schoolgirls hostage in Nigeria's latest mass abduction

"More than 300 girls are unaccounted for after a headcount of remaining students", said a teacher at the Government Girls Secondary School Jangebe who asked to remain anonymous.

The abduction took place in the early hours of Friday, according to available report.

Armed groups operating in Zamfara often kidnap for ransom but when gunmen took more than 300 boys from Kankara in neighbouring Katsina state in December previous year, some reports claimed that Boko Haram, which operates hundreds of miles away in the north-east, was behind the attack.

Today's attack came less than two weeks after gunmen abducted 42 people, including 27 students, from the Government Science College Kagara in Niger State. "They also moved some on foot", he told Reuters.

"These attack. puts (the children) at risk of never returning to school, as they or their parents think it's too unsafe".

Nasiru Abdullahi said his daughters, aged 10 and 13, were among the missing. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

"I receive call around 1:45am about wetin happun for di school and by 4am when I reach dia some parents don already dey dia but by den di gunmen don pack di students go, na just school authority dey try check who and who miss".

In an interview with The Nation, Gumi said the bandits he recently met with inside Zamfara forests were not responsible for the kidnap of the schoolgirls.

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The hostages are yet to be released.

"We are going to rescue our children, since the government isn't ready to give them protection", he said.

"People mobilised to block security operatives, journalists and government officials from getting access to the main town", he said.

In December, dozens of gunmen abducted 344 schoolboys from the town of Kankara in northwest Katsina state. They were freed after six days but the government denied paying a ransom. The first "purpose" listed for the United Nations is to maintain worldwide peace and security, and to that end: "to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace".

Though most of the recent kidnappings have happened in the north-west, which were not covered by the Safe Schools Initiative, the 2018 abduction of 110 schoolgirls from Government Science School, Dapchi in north-eastern Yobe state raised questions about the success of the initiative. The incident drew widespread global attention, with several prominent personalities calling for their release.

President Muhammadu Buhari replaced his long-standing military chiefs earlier this month amid worsening violence, with the armed forces fighting to reclaim northeastern towns overrun by insurgents.

Perhaps the most notorious kidnapping in recent years was when Boko Haram militants abducted 276 schoolgirls from the town of Chibok in Borno state in April 2014.

Save the Children said it was "horrified" about the latest abductions.

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