LAGOS, Nigeria — Gunmen kidnapped 317 women from a boarding faculty in northern Nigeria on Friday, police mentioned, the most recent in a collection of mass kidnappings of scholars within the West African nation.
Police and the army have begun joint operations to rescue the ladies after the assault on the Authorities Women Junior Secondary Faculty in Jangebe city, in accordance with a police spokesman in Zamfara state, Mohammed Shehu, who confirmed the quantity kidnapped.
One guardian, Nasiru Abdullahi, informed The Related Press that his daughters, aged 10 and 13, are among the many lacking.
“It’s disappointing that though the army have a robust presence close to the college they have been unable to guard the ladies,” he mentioned. “At this stage, we’re solely counting on divine intervention.”
Resident Musa Mustapha mentioned the gunmen additionally attacked a close-by army camp and checkpoint, stopping troopers from interfering whereas the gunmen spent a number of hours on the faculty. It was not instantly clear if there have been any casualties.
A number of giant teams of armed males function in Zamfara state, described by the federal government as bandits, and are identified to kidnap for cash and to push for the discharge of their members from jail.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari mentioned Friday the federal government’s main goal is to get all the college hostages returned protected, alive and unhurt.
“We won’t succumb to blackmail by bandits and criminals who goal harmless faculty college students within the expectation of big ransom funds,” he mentioned. “Let bandits, kidnappers and terrorists not entertain any illusions that they’re extra highly effective than the federal government. They shouldn’t mistake our restraint for the humanitarian objectives of defending harmless lives as a weak point, or an indication of worry or irresolution.”
He known as on state governments to evaluation their coverage of constructing funds, in cash or automobiles, to bandits.
“Such a coverage has the potential to backfire with disastrous penalties,” Buhari mentioned. He additionally mentioned state and native governments should play their half by being proactive in bettering safety in and round colleges.
U.N. Secretary-Common Antonio Guterres strongly condemned the abductions and known as for the ladies’ “speedy and unconditional launch” and protected return to their households, calling assaults on colleges a grave violation of human rights and the rights of youngsters, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric mentioned.
The U.N. chief reaffirmed U.N. help to Nigeria’s authorities and folks “of their combat in opposition to terrorism, violent extremism and arranged crime,” Dujarric mentioned, and urged Nigerian authorities “to spare no effort in bringing these accountable for this crime to justice.”
“We’re angered and saddened by one more brutal assault on schoolchildren in Nigeria,” mentioned Peter Hawkins, UNICEF consultant within the nation. “This can be a gross violation of youngsters’s rights and a horrific expertise for youngsters to undergo.” He known as for his or her speedy launch.
Friday’s assault got here lower than two weeks after gunmen kidnapped 42 individuals, together with 27 college students, from the Authorities Science Faculty Kagara in Niger State. The scholars, lecturers and members of the family are nonetheless being held.
In December, 344 college students have been kidnapped from the Authorities Science Secondary Faculty Kankara in Katsina State. They have been finally launched.
Anietie Ewang, Nigeria researcher at Human Rights Watch, famous the current abductions and tweeted that “Sturdy motion is required from the authorities to show the tide & hold colleges protected.”
Amnesty Worldwide additionally condemned the “appalling assault,” warning in an announcement that “the ladies kidnapped are in critical threat of being harmed.”
Lecturers have been pressured to flee to different states for defense, and plenty of kids have needed to abandon their schooling amid frequent violent assaults in communities, Amnesty mentioned.
AP author Carley Petesch in Dakar, Senegal contributed to this report.