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Nigeria: Parents of abducted school children wait anxiously for news

A woman cries as she calls out to the government to help and rescue school children that were kidnapped by gunmen in Chikun, Nigeria, Thursday, March 7, 2024   -  
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Parents of abducted children in Nigeria waited anxiously to hear off any news concerning the recovery of the children on Saturday.

Nearly 300 children were abducted from their school by motorcycle-riding gunmen in the latest mass kidnapping, which analysts and activists blamed on the failure of intelligence and a slow security response.

The abduction of the 287 children in Kaduna state, near the West African nation's capital, is one of the largest school kidnappings in the decade since the kidnapping of schoolgirls in Borno state’s Chibok village in 2014 stunned the world.

Analysts and activists say the security lapses that allowed that mass abduction remain.

“They came in dozens, riding on (motor) bikes, shooting sporadically and randomly,” said the school's assistant headteacher, Nura Ahmad.

The victims of the latest attack — among them at least 100 children aged 12 or under — were surrounded and marched into a forest just as they were starting the school day, said locals in Kuriga town, located 55 miles (89 kilometers) from the city of Kaduna.

One man was shot dead as he tried to save the students, school authorities said.

One mother, Rashidat Hamza, had five of her six children among those abducted.

She hopes her children, aged between 7 and 18-years-old, can be brought back home swiftly.

“We don’t know what to do but we believe in God. We don’t have security, no soldiers, no police to protect the school,” Hamza said.

“Since this happened, my brain has been scattered. I can’t even walk around because I am worried about the children and their condition,” said Shehu Lawal, whose son was also abducted.

No group has claimed responsibility for this mass abduction but locals blame it on the bandits who carry out frequent mass killings and abductions for large ransoms in remote villages across Nigeria’s northwest and central regions.

Women, children and students are often targeted in the mass abductions in the conflict-hit northern region and many victims are released only after paying huge ransoms.

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