Boko Haram claims kidnapping

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Boko Haram on Tuesday claimed it was behind the abduction of hundreds of students in northwestern Nigeria, in what appears to be a major expansion of the jihadist group’s activities into new areas.

At least 333 students are still missing since the attack late on Friday on the all-boys Government Science Secondary School in Katsina State — hundreds of kilometres from Boko Haram’s stronghold in northeastern Nigeria.

“I am Abubakar Shekau and our brothers are behind the kidnapping in Katsina,” the leader of Boko Haram said in a voice message.

More than 100 gunmen on motorcycles stormed the rural school, forcing students to flee and hide in the surrounding bush. A number of boys were able to escape, but many were captured, split into groups and taken away, residents said.

#BringBackOurBoys has been trending on social media since the weekend in reference to a similar hashtag used after Boko Haram abducted 276 girls in 2014 in Chibok, in northeastern Nigeria. The army has said it has located the hideout of the “bandits”, and that a military operation was under way.

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