Schools across the northwestern Nigerian state of Zamfara remain closed after 73 students were kidnapped on Wednesday. Obtained by CNN, local police statements indicate that the students and the nearby high school were targeted by "armed bandits."
"The abduction followed the invasion of the school by a large number of armed bandits," the Zamfara State Police Command said, according to CNN.
"A search and rescue team has been deployed to work with the military to locate and rescue the abducted children. Security has also been beefed up at Kaya Village and environ to forestall further attacks on the communities."
Zamfara has dealt with kidnapping throughout the year. In February, approximately 200 girls were abducted from a different state-run school in Zamfara.
"I believe she was taken away wearing only her sleeping clothes because I found her hijab and her school uniform," Jummai Haruna, the mother of a girl that was abducted, told CNN.
"I miss her so much already. Nobody has told me anything about [the] whereabouts of my daughter. She has always been with me. Her father died when I was still pregnant with her. Now I don't what to do."
Kidnappers often abducted large amounts of girls in exchange for large sums of money. According to SBM Intelligence in Lagos, more than $18 million has been circulated over the last decade in exchange for the safe return of abducted children. Last week, CNN reported that 91 girls were released by their kidnappers after their families collectively put up a $140,000 ransom.
Niger State officials say the continued threat of kidnapping has "discouraged parents from sending their children to school." As a result, organizations are calling for local authorities to "take all measures to return them to safety."