Hundreds of Nigerian schoolgirls taken in mass abduction

Lagos, Feb 26 (AP) Hundreds of girls are missing after a large group of gunmen raided a school in northern Nigeria early Friday morning, residents say.

The Government Secondary Jangebe School in Zamfara state was the scene of the latest mass abduction of school children in northern Nigeria.

Nasiru Abdullahi told The Associated Press that school records show 300 girls are missing. His daughters, aged 10 and 13, are among them.

Resident Musa Mustapha said the gunmen also attacked a nearby military camp and checkpoint, preventing soldiers from interfering while the gunmen spent several hours at the school. It was not immediately clear if there were any casualties.

Several large groups of armed men operate in Zamfara state, described by the government as bandits, and are known to kidnap for money and for the release of their members from jail.

We are angered and saddened by yet another brutal attack on schoolchildren in Nigeria, said Peter Hawkins, UNICEF representative in the country. This is a gross violation of children’s rights and a horrific experience for children to go through.” He called for their immediate release.

The West African nation has seen several such attacks and kidnappings over the years, notably the mass abduction in April 2014 by jihadist group Boko Haram of 276 girls from the secondary school in Chibok in Borno state. More than a hundred of the girls are still missing.

Friday’s attack 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. (AP)