A rescue operation is underway to locate more than 70 students and four teachers in Nigeria who were abducted by a group of armed militants on Thursday as violent attacks and kidnappings continue throughout the country.
The Guardian Nigeria reports that nearly 100 gunmen attacked the Federal Government College in Kebbi state, leading to the death of a police officer and a student.
Authorities say the gunmen who are seeking ransom payments were responsible for the attack, which is the third mass kidnapping over the past three weeks in northwest Nigeria.
Usman Aliyu, a teacher at the school, said most of the abducted children were girls.
“They killed one of the (police officers), broke through the gate and went straight to the students’ classes,” Aliyu told Reuters.
One local resident said frantic parents descended upon the school after the gunfire ceased, in an effort to search for their children.
“When we got there we saw students crying, teachers crying, everyone is sympathizing with people,” said Atiku Aboki.
“Everyone was confused,” he added. “Then my brother called me (to say) that his two children have not been seen and (we) don’t know if they are among the kidnapped.”
Several Nigerian schools have been targets since December by armed insurgents threatening to harm their captives unless a ransom is paid.
More than 300 boys were taken from a Government Science secondary school on Dec. 11 where police engaged in a shootout with the assailants.
Then, hundreds of girls were kidnapped in February from the Government Secondary Jangebe School in Zamfara state after a large group of gunmen raided the school.
In March, eight members of Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) in Kaduna were abducted at gunpoint. Kidnappers demanded a ransom of $131,000.
And earlier this month, one student was killed and 10 people were abducted from the main campus of Nuhu Bamalli Polytechnic in Zairia, Kaduna state.
International Christian Concern, a persecution watchdog, reports these large-scale kidnappings which were originally thought to have been carried out by loosely organized bandits. But recently, Kaduna state governor El Rufai informed the public that these ransoms were used to fund Boko Haram and their extremist agenda.
Please continue to pray that God’s protection will comfort those who are still missing and for His love to bring encouragement to their families.