Gunmen abducted 317 girls from a boarding school in northern Nigeria on Friday, the latest in a series of mass kidnappings of students in the West African nation, per the AP. Police and the military have begun joint operations to rescue the girls after the attack at the Girls Science Secondary School in Jangebe town, according to a police spokesman in Zamfara state. One parent, Nasiru Abdullahi, said his daughters, aged 10 and 13, are among the missing. "It is disappointing that even though the military have a strong presence near the school they were unable to protect the girls," he said. "At this stage, we are only hoping on divine intervention." 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 casualties.
Several large groups of armed men operate in Zamfara state and are known to kidnap for money and for the release of their members from jail. Nigeria has seen several such attacks 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 but eventually released. Human rights groups have condemned the attack, with Anietie Ewang of Human Rights Watch noting "strong action is required from the authorities to turn the tide."
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