317 schoolgirls have been abducted by 'bandits' in an attack on a boarding school in Nigeria

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Kiara Keane
·3 min read
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Muhammadu Buhari
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari speaks after security forces rescued schoolboys from kidnappers, in Katsina, Nigeria, December 18, 2020. Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde
  • Over 300 schoolgirls have been kidnapped from a boarding school in Northern Nigeria.

  • Gunmen attacked the school and a nearby military checkpoint, according to Associated Press.

  • A joint rescue operation between the military and police is now said to be underway.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

More than 3oo schoolgirls were abducted from a boarding school in northern Nigeria in an attack on Friday.

Armed men took 317 girls from the Government Girls Secondary School in Jangebe, Zamfara state, police confirmed to Associated Press.

A government official told CNN that the gunmen spent several hours at the school during the ambush in the early hours of Friday morning and that an officer was killed during the attack. A state police spokesman added a "heavily-armed" joint rescue operation was underway to free the children.

The school was located just a few minutes away from a military checkpoint, which was also attacked by gunmen who stopped soldiers from intervening.

A parent with two daughters at the school who are aged 10 and 13, who were among the missing girls, told Associated Press: "It is disappointing that even though the military has a strong presence near the school, they could not protect the girls. At this stage, we are only hoping on divine intervention."

Associated Press noted that groups of armed men are known to operate in the area, where the "bandits" kidnap people for ransom and to negotiate the release of their own members from jail.

In a statement, a spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that he "strongly condemns" the latest abduction.

"The Secretary-General calls for the immediate and unconditional release of the abducted children and for their safe return to their families," the statement from spokesman Stéphane Dujarric read. "He reiterates that attacks on schools and other educational facilities constitute a grave violation of the rights of children and human rights more broadly. He stresses that schools must remain safe spaces for children to learn without fear of violence."

He urged the Nigerian authorities "to spare no efforts" in bringing those guilty of the attack to justice.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari also condemned the abduction in a series of tweets on Friday.

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"Our primary objective is to get all the school hostages safe, alive and unharmed," Buhari wrote on Twitter, noting that it was a complex situation "that requires maximum patience in order to protect the victims from physical harm or even brutal death at the hands of their captors."

"We will not succumb to blackmail by bandits and criminals who target innocent school students in the expectation of huge ransom payments," he said.

Meanwhile, a group of children, their teachers, and some family members have now been freed following an abduction at another school in central Nigeria, which took place just 10 days ago, according to the BBC.

Forty-two people, including 27 students, were freed after being kidnapped by gunmen at the Government Science College in Kagara, Niger state, though no further details have been released yet.

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