Nigerian military and police began operations to rescue hundreds of schoolgirls abducted early Friday in northwest Zamfara State, according to officials. 

Governor Bello Mohammed said police and other security agencies are using surveillance aircraft in the rescue effort.

“Currently, police helicopters and other search and rescue operatives have been deployed to the area,” he said.

Inspector General of Police Mohammed Adamu also confirms the deployment of combat police.

Outcry and condemnations have come in the wake of the kidnapping of 317 schoolgirls early Friday at the Government Girls Secondary School in Jangebe that was attacked by armed men, according to witnesses.

Alhaji Bello Maikusa Jangebe, a father of one of the students said he was woken up by gunshots in the early morning.

President Mohammadu Buhari in a statement described the incident as an act of criminality. He warned regional governments against negotiating with the kidnappers.

“We will not succumb to blackmail and tactics by criminals,” he said.

Senate President Ahmed Lawal said the abductions were a negative trend coming nearly two weeks after gunmen killed a student and kidnapped 42 others, including 27 pupils, in Kangara.

Seven girls were found late Friday but two security sources said they were not among those kidnapped. They said the girls escaped from the scene of the abduction.

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