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'Pray': Gunmen Abduct 287 Nigerian Children, '5,000 Nigerian Christians Murdered' Over 2 Years

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Nigerian gunmen have attacked a school in the county's northwest region abducting at least 287 students. This marks the second mass abduction in the West African nation in less than a week.

According to locals, assailants surrounded the government-owned school in Kaduna State's Kuriga town Thursday just as students were about to start the school day at around 8 a.m.

Authorities had said earlier that more than 100 students were taken hostage in the attack. 

However, Sani Abdullahi, the school's headteacher, told Kaduna Gov. Uba Sani when he visited the town that the total number of those missing after a headcount was 287.

"We will ensure that every child will come back. We are working with the security agencies," the governor told villagers. It's unclear how he plans to achieve that since previous mass abductions have not been resolved.

No group claimed responsibility for Thursday's attack though blame fell on armed groups that mostly constitute Muslim herders who have been accused of carrying out violent attacks and kidnappings for ransom over the last few decades.

As CBN News has reported for years, Islamic extremist groups, including Boko Haram and the Islamic State, operate freely in parts of Nigeria. 

And groups like the Fulani herdsmen, also known as the Fulani militia, are often radical Muslims who target Christians with relentless attacks on villages across the West African country.

According to Open Doors USA, the Hausa-Fulani Muslim herdsmen comprise about 38 million people who speak various languages and are nomadic. Members of the group have varying degrees of adherence to Islam.

Open Doors attributes the extremist groups' rise to the presidency of Muhammadu Buhari which has put "Nigeria at the epicenter of targeted violence against the church."

Abductions of students from schools in northern Nigeria are common and have become a growing source of concern since 2014 when Islamic extremists kidnapped 276 schoolgirls in Borno state's Chibok Village. Nearly 100 of those girls were never recovered.

More recently, abductions have been concentrated in northwestern and central regions, where dozens of armed groups often target villagers and travelers for huge ransoms.

Open Doors Southern Africa urges Christians to pray for fellow believers in Nigeria. 

"Pray for your Nigerian family who live in the most world's most violent place for Christians," they wrote on X.

The group noted that 11 Christians are killed every day in Nigeria. 

Thursday's attack occurred just days after more than 200 people, mostly women and children, were abducted by extremists in northeastern Nigeria. 

Women, children, and students are often targeted in the mass abductions in the conflict-hit northern region, and many victims are released only after paying huge ransoms.

Observers say both attacks are a reminder of Nigeria's worsening security crisis which resulted in the deaths of hundreds of people in 2023.

Bola Tinubu was elected president of Nigeria last year after promising to end the violence. 

But there has been "no tangible improvement in security situation yet" under Tinubu, said Oluwole Ojewale, West and Central Africa researcher with the Africa-focused Institute for Security Studies.

US Senators Warn: 'Christians Murdered for Their Faith'

Meanwhile, three U.S. Senators sent a letter Thursday to the U.S. Dept. of State urging the agency to "not stand idly by while Nigerian Christians continue to be murdered for their faith." 

The U.S. State Department had removed Nigeria from its Countries of Particular Concern (CPC) list in 2021, but under the International Religious Freedom Act, Nigeria meets the statutory definition of "engaging in or tolerating severe violations of religious freedom" to be designated as a CPC, International Christian Concern (ICC) reports. 

"We remain very concerned about the deteriorating state of religious freedom in Nigeria and your Department's continued failure to appropriately respond using the tools at your disposal," Senators Josh Hawley (R-MO), Mike Braun (R-IN), and Marco Rubio (R-FL) wrote to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

The Senators point to a recent attack that took place last Christmas. 

"From December 23 to December 25, 2023, Islamic extremists murdered at least 140 people, including women and children, with an untold number wounded and displaced as a result of this senseless violence. It was a targeted attack carried out with shocking brutality," they explained. 

"As you know, violence against Christians in Nigeria runs rampant. Reports estimate that roughly 5,000 Nigerian Christians have been murdered in religiously-motivated violence in each of the last two years," they continued. "You must not stand idly by while Nigerian Christians continue to be murdered for their faith. We urge you to immediately use the tools at your disposal and re-designate Nigeria as a CPC."

The ICC also wrote a letter in January to Congress, requesting a congressional hearing into the State Department's decision to not designate Nigeria as a CPC.

"It is imperative for the United States to actively address these issues and ensure that the principles of religious freedom are upheld globally," more than 40 international religious experts wrote. 

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About The Author


Talia Wise has served as a multi-media producer for, CBN Newswatch, The Prayer Link, and CBN News social media outlets. Prior to joining CBN News she worked for Fox Sports Florida producing and reporting. Talia earned a master’s degree in journalism from Regent University and a bachelor's degree from the University of Virginia.