At Least 287 Students Abducted in Nigeria

( – A band of assailants recently stormed a Nigerian school, abducting at least 287 students by force. Similar attacks have occurred throughout the region in recent years, with multiple extremist cells terrorizing tourists and villagers alike. No one has taken responsibility for the kidnappings, but officials suspect a local group is behind the recent strike.

The New York Post reports that the incident took place on March 7, in Kaduna State’s Kuriga town, which is located in northwest Nigeria. The kidnappers surrounded the school at roughly 8 a.m., just as classes were about to begin.

Kaduna Gov. Uba Sani vowed to recover every lost child, stating that they were working with local security agencies. The groups continue to search while parents and other loved ones wait desperately for updates.

An Islamic extremist cell could be responsible, according to ABC News, but the attack may also have been the work of bandits — armed gangs that have also taken hold throughout the region. They have claimed credit for previous abductions as well as mass killings and other criminal activities. The groups have taken over local farms and mining sites, turning locals into slave labor, and the country’s armed forces have become too thinly spread to defend against the threat. Authorities believe kidnappers in the past have forced victims into marriage with their members, but recent occurrences have mostly been to collect ransom.

The bandit groups formed when local nomads began to fight over the land’s limited resources. They’ve since evolved into highly organized crime rings that have taken over vast areas. Officials believe hundreds of well-armed bandit gangs are currently terrorizing the region.

About 1,500 students have been abducted in the region since 2014. Children are common targets because they’re most likely to provoke emotional responses. Both families and state agencies regularly pay to see people returned safely as a result, and many of these groups have turned collecting ransom into a profitable business.

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