Boko Haram claims kidnapping of hundreds of Nigerian schoolboys

Boko Haram claims kidnapping of hundreds of Nigerian schoolboys
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Boko Haram, a U.S.-designated terrorist organization, has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of hundreds of Nigerian school boys, according to multiple reports.

At least 330 students were abducted on Friday from the Government Science Secondary School in Nigeria’s Katsina state, with gunmen brandishing assault rifles kidnapping the boys. 

The Daily Nigerian reported that it received an audio message from Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau saying his group abducted the schoolboys because Western education is against the tenets of Islam, The Associated Press reported

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The Nigerian government, who has not identified the attackers, said on Monday that progress is being made to free the children unharmed, Nigerian presidential spokesman Garba Shehu wrote on Twitter. 

At least 600 boys were able to escape the assault on the school, the AP reported, while attackers engaged in a gunfight with local police. 

The assault last week on the boys school is one of the largest attacks on Nigerian students in the country, surpassing the April 2014 Boko Haram attack on a girls school where 270 students were abducted. About 100 of those girls are still missing. 

In February 2014, 59 boys were killed during an assault by Boko Haram on the Federal Government College Buni Yadi, in Yobe State.  

Nigeria has come under international scrutiny for unchecked attacks by terrorist groups for crimes against humanity as well as impunity for alleged perpetrated abuses by Nigerian forces. 

The U.S. last week designated Nigeria as a Country of Particular Concern over violations of religious freedom, one of the most serious designations from the State Department. It opens it up to sanctions and is the first time the U.S. has used the designation for Nigeria. 

The International Criminal Court said last week that it had concluded its preliminary investigation into Nigeria and said that there’s reasonable basis to conclude that Boko Haram and splinter groups have committed crimes against humanity and war crimes.