On Friday, February 26, 2021, an armed group of men kidnapped 317 girls from a boarding school in the town of Jangebe in northwest Nigeria, Africa.
Over 300 young girls were abducted from the Government Girls Science Secondary School in Jangebe.
According to reports the attack began after 1 a.m. as the militants forced some girls into vehicles while others were forced to walk into the Rugu forest, which covers hundreds of miles across three states, The Wall Street Journal reported.
UNICEF's Nigeria representative, Peter Hawkins, said in a statement. “We utterly condemn the attack and call on those responsible to release the girls immediately and for the government to take steps to ensure their safe release and the safety of all other schoolchildren in Nigeria.”
According to Vatican News, speaking at the Angelus prayer on Sunday, Pope Francis forcefully condemned the “vile kidnapping of 317 girls” in Nigeria’s Zamfara State.
He invited everyone to pray for them, so that they might return home soon.
“I am near to their families and to them,” said the Pope. “Let us pray that Our Lady might keep them safe.”
And he led the faithful in the recitation of the Hail Mary.
Human Rights Watch, tweeted HRW Nigeria researcher Anietie Ewang's comment about the attack: “The repeated school abductions in Nigeria’s northwest are a worrying sign that children have become prime targets for criminal gangs seeking recognition of financial gain.”
Less than two weeks ago a similar attack in northwest Nigeria occurred where gunmen abducted 42 individuals, including 27 schoolboys, from the Government Science College in Kagara on Feb. 17. The 42 kidnapped students, parents and teachers are still being held captive, according to CBN.
On Dec. 11, Boko Haram, a terrorist group, kidnapped nearly 500 schoolboys in an attack on a boarding school. The terrorist group later freed 344 boys after security forces negotiations, but many of the boys remain missing.
The attacks on schools follow the kidnapping of the 276 Nigerian schoolgirls in 2014, which caught international attention with the #BringBackOurGirls campaign. Over 112 of the Chibok schoolgirls remain missing.
The Global Terrorism Index has ranked Nigeria as the third country most affected by terrorism in the world.
(with information from Christian Post)