According to police, gunmen abducted 317 girls from a school in northern Nigeria on Friday. This is just the latest of many such kidnappings to occur in the West African nation that has become a hotbed for Boko Haram and other jihadist groups.
The Nigerian military has joined local authorities in operations to rescue the girls who were students of the Girls Science Secondary School, a boarding school in Jangebe.
"It is disappointing that even though the military have a strong presence near the school they were unable to protect the girls," Nasiru Abdullahi, a parent whose 10 and 13-year-old daughters were among the kidnapped. "At this stage, we are only hoping on divine intervention."
Authorities in the region note that these types of events, if not religiously motivated terror attacks, are usually an effort on the part of bandits to leverage for money or for the release of their comrades from prison.
"We are angered and saddened by yet another brutal attack on schoolchildren in Nigeria," the country's UNICEF representative Peter Hawkins said in a statement calling for their release. "This is a gross violation of children's rights and a horrific experience for children to go through."
It has only been two weeks since a similar attack by gunmen abducted 27 students and 15 others from a different school, the Government Science College Kagara.
The most notorious case occurred in April of 2014 when Boko Haram abducted 276 girls from a secondary school in Chibok, prompting international outrage. Over 100 of those girls are still yet to be found.