Suspected Islamic extremists abducted some 100 schoolgirls in Nigeria on Tuesday after shooting their way past school guards then loading the teenage girls onto trucks.
The kidnapping occurred in northeastern Nigeria where there has been a surge of violence by the Boko Haram terrorist group trying to institute Islamic law in the African nation.
The Associated Press, quoting a local official, reported that some of the girls jumped off of an open truck to escape.
Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is forbidden,” has been kidnapping girls and forcing them to act as cooks and sex slaves, the AP reported.
On Tuesday after midnight, the suspected Islamist gunmen killed a soldier and a police officer tasked with protecting the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, Nigeria, then snatched the large group of girls, an unnamed Nigerian security official told news agencies.
Agence France-Presse reported that the militants also burned several buildings in the school complex.
One of the girls who escaped told AFP by phone that she and her friends who jumped did so after one of the vehicles in the convoy broke down, distracting the gunmen.
“They tried to fix it,” the unnamed teen said. “It was at this moment that some of us jumped out of the vehicles and ran into the bush.”
“Things are very bad here and everybody is sad,” Audu Musa, who teaches in a nearby school, told Reuters, adding that he personally saw eight bodies in the area later Tuesday morning.
Because of the increased violence in the area, schools in Borno state were shut last month. But the girls who were kidnapped, between the ages of 16 and 18, were called back for final exams, a local government official told the AP.
Nigerian troops are now searching for the attackers and their hostages, AFP reported, calling the mass abduction “unprecedented.”
The kidnapping came just one day after a massive bombing at a bus station near the Nigerian capital of Abuja in which 75 people were killed.
Boko Haram is reported to have killed thousands in northern and central Nigeria since the uprising began in 2009, including attacking schools.