Nigeria’s Zamfara attack: Hundreds (317) of schoolgirls feared kidnapped – BBC

A teacher in the north-western Zamfara state tells the BBC at least 300 girls are unaccounted for.

Hundreds of girls are feared to have been kidnapped from a school in Nigeria’s north-western Zamfara state.

A teacher told the BBC that at least 300 students were unaccounted for after the Friday morning attack by gunmen.

Local officials have confirmed the attack but have not given any further details.

This is the latest mass abduction targeting schools in recent weeks. Armed gangs often seize schoolchildren for ransom.

At least 42 people, including 27 students, who were kidnapped last week in Kagara, in neighboring Niger state, are yet to be released.

The 2014 kidnap of 276 schoolgirls in the north-eastern town of Chibok by Islamist militants Boko Haram brought global attention to the scourge of school kidnaps in Nigeria but the most recent attacks are suspected to be the work of criminal gangs.

A surge in armed militancy has led to a breakdown of security in the north of Africa’s most populous country, where school kidnappings are becoming endemic.

“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 in Government Girls Science Secondary School Jangebe,” police said in a statement.

The rise in abductions is fuelled in part by sizeable government payoffs in exchange for the children, officials have said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The government regularly denies such payouts.

Zamfara’s information commissioner, Sulaiman Tanau Anka, told Reuters earlier that gunmen came firing sporadically in the late-night raid on the school. “Information available to me said they came with vehicles and moved the students, they also moved some on foot,” Anka said.

School abductions were once the domain of northeastern Islamist groups Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa Province, but the tactic has now been adopted by other militants in Nigeria’s northwest.

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