The families of 317 girls between the ages of 12 and 16 who were abducted from their boarding school in Jangebe, Zamfara State, Nigeria, are desperately longing for their return.

One of the families lost four of their five daughters, recounted Aliyu Ladan Jangebe, the father, one of whom hid in a bathroom with three other girls avoiding misfortune, according to The Associated Press, on Feb. 28. 

“We are not in (a) good mood because when you have five children and you are able to secure (just) one. We only thank God … But we are not happy.” “We cannot imagine their situation,” Jangebe declared. 

More than 100 armed bandits reportedly broke down the school gate and shot the guard, then proceeded to wake up the girls. 

“They broke the school gate and shot at the security man. Then they moved into the hostels and woke up the girls, telling them it was time for prayers. After gathering all of them, the girls were crying and they took them away to the forest. They were also shooting in the air as they were marching to the forest,” the witness said, according to BBC. 

Residents of a nearby village said the hundreds of girls were pushed through the streets like a herd of animals.

The kidnappers also attacked a nearby military post to prevent them from being pursued. 

This is the latest in a series of mass kidnappings that have recently rocked Nigeria, a country located in West Africa.

Another kidnapping occurred on Feb. 17 at the Government Science College Kagara, in Niger state, and after a ransom was paid, 24 students, six staff members and eight family members were released from the group of 42 people. 

Also, from a secondary school in Kankara, in northwest Nigeria, more than 300 students were deprived of their freedom and later released, although the government declared that no ransom had been paid for them. 

Kidnappings are widespread in Zamfara state, carried out by criminal gangs who do it for money and to press for the release of imprisoned gang members.

“While improving community policing and security in general remains a mid-to-long-term challenge, in the short term authorities must punish those responsible to send a strong message that there will be zero tolerance toward such acts,” warned Rida Lyammouri, a member of a Morocco-based think tank.