Gunmen abduct 317 schoolgirls in Nigeria. Zamfara State sees second mass kidnapping in a week.

KANO : Unidentified gunmen seized 317 school girls in northwest Nigeria on Friday, police said, the second such kidnapping in little over a week in a region increasingly targeted by militants.

School kidnappings, first practiced by militant groups Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa Province, have become endemic around the increasingly lawless north, to the anguish of families and frustration of Nigeria's government and armed forces.

Police in Zamfara state, where the latest attack took place, said they had begun search-and-rescue operations with the army to find the ''armed bandits'' who took the girls at Government Girls Science Secondary School in the town of Jangebe.

Zamafar's information commissioner, Sulaiman Tanau Anka, told Reuters the assailants came in firing sporadically during the 1 am raid.

''Information available to me said they came with vehicles and moved the students, they also moved some on foot,'' he said.

It was the third such kidnapping since December.

The rise in abductions is fuelled in part by sizable government payoffs in exchange for child hostages, catalysing a broader breakdown of security in the north officials have said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The government regularly denies such payouts.

School abductions were first the domain of Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa Province in the northeast, but the tactic has now been adopted by other militants in the northwest, whose agenda is unclear.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Friday's raid. [Reuters]


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