Hundreds of Nigerian parents are looking for their missing girls after they were abducted last week by Boko Haram, a homegrown militant Islamic group. There are 234 girls missing in total.
The group, whose name means "Western education is sin" in the local Hausa language, has killed 1,500 in the first three months of this year alone. Officials say the scale of the kidnapping is unprecedented.
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"All the community are sympathizing with the parents," said Asabe Kwambura, principal of Government Girls Secondary School in the Nigerian town of Chibok, told CNN
. However, the principal added, "the people in the villages are not surprised."
Chibok is located in the Borno province that, along with Yobe and Adamawa provinces, has been in a state of emergency as they have been attacked relentlessly by Boko Haram for 11 months.
The group wants to impose a more strict version of Sharia law across the nation, including the mostly Muslim north and Christian-dominated south. Crimes attributed to Boko Haram include assassinating politicians and religious leaders, bombing churches and mosques, and abducting women and children.
Close to 50 of the abducted children escaped the kidnappers by jumping from moving vehicles and hiding in the dense forest, but many children were not so lucky.
"I have not seen my dear daughter, she is a good girl," Musa Muka, whose 17-year-old Martha was taken away, told The Associated Press
. "We plead with the government to help rescue her and her friends; we pray nothing happens to her."
Defense Ministry Spokesman Maj. Gen. Chris Olukolade told the AP, "The operation is going on and we will continue to deploy more troops," but was embarrassed when he had to revise the number of missing girls by at least 200 more after a statement last week claimed they'd recovered all but eight.
Because many children are believed to be hiding in the forest, the Nigerian Air Force has stopped its daily bombings.
In total, Boko Haram's terrorism has displaced 750,000 who have fled their homes. This includes displaced farmers, whose untended crops may cause a food shortage.
Abubakar Shekau, Boko Haram's leader, in a video Saturday claimed a recent bombing, but didn't mention the abduction.
"Everyone that calls himself a Muslim must stop obeying the constitution, must abandon democracy, must stay away from Western education," he said.
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