LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) — Gunmen kidnapped 317 women from a boarding faculty in northern Nigeria on Friday, police mentioned, the newest in a collection of mass kidnappings of scholars within the West African nation.
Police and the navy have begun joint operations to rescue the ladies after the assault on the Authorities Ladies Junior Secondary Faculty in Jangebe city, in line with a police spokesman in Zamfara state, Mohammed Shehu, who confirmed the quantity kidnapped.
One guardian, Nasiru Abdullahi, instructed The Related Press that his daughters, aged 10 and 13, are among the many lacking.
“It’s disappointing that regardless that the navy have a robust presence close to the varsity they had been unable to guard the ladies,” he mentioned. “At this stage, we’re solely relying on divine intervention.”
Resident Musa Mustapha mentioned the gunmen additionally attacked a close-by navy 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 major goal is to get all the varsity hostages returned protected, alive and unhurt.
“We is not going to succumb to blackmail by bandits and criminals who goal harmless faculty college students within the expectation of giant 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 targets of defending harmless lives as a weak point, or an indication of worry or irresolution.”
He known as on state governments to evaluate their coverage of creating 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 enhancing safety in and round faculties.
U.N. Secretary-Normal Antonio Guterres strongly condemned the abductions and known as for the ladies’ “fast and unconditional launch” and protected return to their households, calling assaults on faculties a grave violation of human rights and the rights of kids, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric mentioned.
The U.N. chief reaffirmed U.N. assist to Nigeria’s authorities and other people “of their battle towards terrorism, violent extremism and arranged crime,” Dujarric mentioned, and urged Nigerian authorities “to spare no effort in bringing these answerable for this crime to justice.”
“We’re angered and saddened by yet one more brutal assault on schoolchildren in Nigeria,” mentioned Peter Hawkins, UNICEF consultant within the nation. “It is a gross violation of kids’s rights and a horrific expertise for youngsters to undergo.” He known as for his or her fast launch.
Nigeria has seen a number of such assaults and kidnappings through the years, notably the mass abduction in April 2014 by jihadist group Boko Haram of 276 women from the secondary faculty in Chibok in Borno state. Greater than 100 of the ladies are nonetheless lacking.
Friday’s assault got here lower than two weeks after gunmen kidnapped 42 folks, together with 27 college students, from the Authorities Science Faculty Kagara in Niger State. The scholars, academics and members of the family are nonetheless being held.
In December, 344 college students had been kidnapped from the Authorities Science Secondary Faculty Kankara in Katsina State. They had been finally launched.
Anietie Ewang, Nigeria researcher at Human Rights Watch, famous the latest abductions and tweeted that “Sturdy motion is required from the authorities to show the tide & hold faculties protected.”
Amnesty Worldwide additionally condemned the “appalling assault,” warning in a press release that “the ladies kidnapped are in critical threat of being harmed.”
Lecturers have been pressured to flee to different states for cover, and plenty of youngsters 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.