Hundreds of students in Nigeria are missing after a gang of militants armed with AK-47s raided the Government Science Secondary School on Friday, The New York Times reported.
The secondary school is located in the country’s northern state of Katsina.
The horrific attack prompted all state schools to temporarily close as authorities sought to discover the attackers’ motives and if they might strike another state school.
Details of the attack
The armed group of men stormed the school while reportedly shooting their semi-automatic rifles in the air. As of this writing, it’s unclear how many students in total were abducted, but the school is reportedly attended by anywhere from 800 to 1,200 students.
Local police were able to put up a show of force in resistance against the armed group, which allowed some students to escape from being kidnapped.
Local police spokesman Isah Gambo told the press that at least 200 students were saved from the abductors after a firefight between the militants and police in a nearby forest where the armed group was in the process of transferring the abducted students to various vehicles.
There are still approximately 400 students missing after the attack, according to the Times.
According to U.S. News & World Report, these types of attacks are, unfortunately, common in Nigeria, and attackers often kidnap children with the goal of taking in ransom payments.
In 2014, hundreds of Nigerian schoolgirls were brutally kidnapped by the Islamic terror group Boko Haram, as the BBC reported. Just this November, at least 70 Nigerian farmers were slaughtered by suspected Islamic terrorists, according to NPR.
Those brutal acts, in addition to the general level of danger that Nigerians face every day, have angered those who argue the Nigerian government isn’t doing nearly enough to protect its people.
The ever-present danger in Nigeria also captured the attention of the White House. The Trump administration issued a statement Friday condemning the Nigerian government for not adequately protecting its citizens from such horrific attacks.
“This week, the United States designated Nigeria a Country of Particular Concern for severe violations of religious freedom,” the statement read. “This week’s designation rightfully calls out the Nigerian government’s inexcusable lack of action to end faith-based violence.”