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Students at a school in Nigeria. (Photo: Alex Masi/Corbis)

A Militant Group Is Fighting to Keep Nigerian Students From Education

Islamic extremists from the group Boko Haram have kidnapped 200 girls from a boarding school

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On Monday night, Islamic militants from a group called Boko Haram stormed a secondary boaring school for girls and kidnapped up to 200 of the sleeping pupils, CNN reports. The group's name translates to "western education is sin" and it has ties to al Qaeda: in November, the U.S. State Department put Boko Haram on its list of "Foreign Terrroist Organizations." The group has been storming schools throughout Nigeria, and in some cases, militants have set fire to schools and shot students, rather than kidnap them Here's CNN with more on this latest attack:

A student who was among about a dozen girls who managed to escape from their abductors recounted her ordeal.

"They forced us into trucks, buses and vans, some of which were carrying food stuffs and petrol. They left with us in a convoy into the bush," said the student, who declined to be named for security reasons. "A group of motorcyclists flanked the convoy to ensure none of us escaped."

At one point, one of the trucks broke down and the girls on that vehicle were transferred to another one, the student said. The broken down truck was set on fire, she added. When another vehicle broke down and the men tried to fix it, "some of us jumped out of the vehicles and ran into the bush. We later found our way back to Chibok," she said.

Boko Haram began as a violent local movement in 2002, with the aim of transforming Nigeria into a Muslim state. Originally, the group targeted police, government officials and religious affiliates. Soon, though, the group forged links with and received training from jihadist groups, which allowed it to scale up the level and sophistication of its attacks, Reuters reports. Last year, when the U.S. declared Boko Haram a terrorist group, the government issued a ransom of $7 million for the organization's leader, Abubakar Shekau. Over time, the group's "killings gradually morphed into the large-scale indiscriminate attacks plaguing Nigeria today, on schools, villages, market places, military barracks, churches and mosques that have led to the deaths of thousands," the Washington Post writes. Around 1,500 people have been murdered by Boko Haram in 2014 alone. 

Leaders of the extremist group threatened to begin attacking schools back in March, and some schools, including the girls' boarding school that was most recently attack, have posted armed guards. As CNN reports, the Boko Haram troops shot at soldiers stationed outside the school, killing two of them, before taking the students and burning down much of the town.

In response to the increasing school-targeted violence, the government has shut down all of its 85 secondary schools in Borno state, CNN writes, indefinitely halting the education of around 120,000 students. 

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