By Bola Olajuwon
Lagos, Dec 15 (efe-epa).- Nigerian terror group Boko Haram on Tuesday claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of more than 300 high school students in Katsina State, in the country’s northwest.
Nigerian authorities are continuing operations to locate the pupils while anguish mounts for the parents.
“What happened in Katsina was done to promote Islam and discourage un-Islamic practices as Western education is not the type of education permitted by Allah and his Holy Prophet,” Abubakar Shekau, the leader of Boko Haram said in an audio message published by HumAngle news.
According to the media outlet, the kidnapping is Boko Haram’s first major operation in northwestern Nigeria. The group is traditionally active in the restive northeast, from where it emerged.
Previously, Boko Haram’s activity in the northwest had been limited to attacks against security forces and small-scale kidnapping for ransom.
The latest mass kidnapping took place on Friday night at the Government Science Secondary School in Kankara.
MORE THAN 300 UNNACCOUNTED FOR
Armed men broke into the center and kidnapped the schoolboys, taking them away on motorcycles, Nigerian army spokesperson, John Eneche, said. He failed to specify how many motorcycles would have been needed to transport hundreds of hostages.
A total of 333 school students are still missing, local authorities in Katsina State said Monday, adding that some may have fled to nearby woods to hide. The school hosts 839 students.