Jakarta (ANTARA) - Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Dr. Yousef bin Ahmed Al-Othaimeen, has strongly condemned the recent kidnapping of hundreds of schoolchildren in Nigeria, for which extremist group Boko Haram has claimed responsibility.

In a statement received in Jakarta on Wednesday, the OIC General Secretariat called for the unconditional release of the students and for their safe return to their families.

In his statement, Al-Othaimeen reiterated the OIC’s principled position against extremism and terrorism, and expressed solidarity with the efforts made by the authorities in northwest Nigeria to combat the phenomena.

On Tuesday, a man identifying himself as the leader of Nigeria's Boko Haram had released an audio message saying the Islamist group was responsible for the kidnapping of more than 300 students from an all-boys school in the northwestern state of Katsina.

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Boko Haram, which means "Western education is forbidden" in the local Hausa language, has waged an insurgency in the northeast of Nigeria since 2009, but has not previously claimed responsibility for any attacks in the area, Reuters reported.

In his message, Abubakar Shekau, the man claiming to be the group's leader, offered no proof to support his claim. Reuters was unable to verify the audio recording, and Nigerian authorities did not immediately comment on the report.

In a region where criminal gangs often rob and kidnap civilians for ransom, gunmen reportedly abducted boys from the Government Science School in Kankara town on Friday. Katsina state authorities said some students managed to escape, but around 320 remained missing. (INE)

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Reporter: Azis Kurmala
Editor: Yuni Arisandy Sinaga
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