Pope Francis has joined the bishops of Nigeria in appealing for the release of 317 schoolgirls who were abducted in northwest Nigeria on Friday. Source: Vatican News.
Speaking at the Angelus prayer yesterday, the Pope forcefully condemned the “vile kidnapping of 317 girls” in Zamfara State.
He invited everyone to pray for them, so that they might return home soon.
“I am near to their families and to them. Let us pray that Our Lady might keep them safe,” he said, before leading the faithful in the recitation of the Hail Mary.
The incident took place on Friday morning in the town of Jangebe.
Unidentified gunmen entered Jangebe Government Girls’ Secondary School around midnight, shooting sporadically.
The state’s Information Commissioner said they carried the girls off in vehicles and on foot. Security forces launched a search for the abducted schoolgirls.
Friday’s attack follows on the heels of a similar kidnapping earlier last week. One student was killed and 42 people were spirited off from a boarding school in the north-central state of Niger in the earlier incident. They were released on Saturday, according to the Zamfara State governor.
In December more than 300 schoolboys were kidnapped in an attack on their school in Katsina, northwest Nigeria and were released a week later.
The Catholic Bishops of Nigeria have decried the deteriorating situation in the country.
“We are really on the brink of a looming collapse, from which we must do all we can to pull back before the worst overcomes the nation,” wrote the Bishops.
Pope appeals for release of 317 schoolgirls kidnapped in Nigeria (By Devin Watkins, Vatican News)