Scores of girls have been abducted in an attack on a school in north-east Nigeria, parents say.
Gunmen reportedly arrived at the school in Chibok, Borno state, late last night, and ordered the hostel’s teenage residents on to lorries.
Parents told the BBC’s Hausa service that at least 200 girls had been abducted. The attackers are thought to be from the Islamist group, Boko Haram.
On Monday, bombings blamed on the group killed more than 70 people in Abuja.
Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is forbidden” in the local Hausa language, has been waging an armed campaign for an Islamic state in northern Nigeria.
The attack on the hostel in Chibok was confirmed by police, although they had no confirmation of the abductions.
Residents in the area reported hearing explosions followed by gunfire last night, said BBC reporter Mohammed Kabir Mohammed in the capital, Abuja.
“Many girls were abducted by the rampaging gunmen who stormed the school in a convoy of vehicles,” the AFP news agency quotes Emmanuel Sam, an education official in Chibok, as saying.
Another witness, who requested anonymity, told AFP that gunmen overpowered soldiers who had been deployed to provide extra security ahead of annual exams.
A student, who did not wish to be named and managed to escape, told the BBC they were sleeping when armed men burst into their hostel and asked to be shown the school’s store.
The schoolgirl said the men loaded the food items in the store into a truck and ordered some of the girls to climb in.
The other girls were packed into a bus and two other trucks, one carrying sacks of food and the other petrol.
The girl said the convoy had passed about three villages when the truck she was in developed a fault and was forced to slow down.
This gave her and about 10 to 15 other girls the opportunity to jump off and escape into the bush.
Nigerian media reported that two members of the security forces had been killed, and residents said 170 houses were burnt down during the attack.
Boko Haram emerged as a critic of Western-style education, and its militants frequently target schools and educational institutions.
This year, the group’s fighters have killed more than 1,500 civilians in three states in north-east Nigeria, which are currently under a state of emergency.
The government recently said that Boko Haram’s activities were confined to that part of the country.
However, Monday’s bombings in Abuja prompted renewed fears that the militants were extending their campaign to the capital.