Church leaders in Kaduna, Nigeria are calling Monday's kidnapping of roughly 140 students the worst kidnapping of Christians to date.

According to Christianity Today, armed assailants breached the walls of Bethel Baptist High School on the outskirts of the state capital, Kaduna, at about 2 a.m. on July 5 and took students in the school hostel away at gunpoint, area residents told Morning Star News (MSN). There were shots fired wildly during this time.

Tragically such school abductions are becoming common in northern Nigeria, where since December about 950 students have been kidnapped—half in the past six weeks, according to the UN Children’s Agency. 

At this time, authorities don't actual know how many students exactly were taken. Different sources say between 140 and 179. Only between 25 and 15 students attending the school escaped this violent event.

"This is a very, very sad situation for us," says Bethel Baptist pastor and state CAN leader whose son narrowly escaped.

In 2021 alone, there have been seven mass kidnappings in Nigeria. 

"Christians in Kaduna State have suffered too much from the hands of their attackers, whether Fulani herdsmen, bandits, or terrorists," Samson Olasupo Ayokunle, president of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and a Baptist pastor, told CT.

The church connected to the school made a statement to the news, saying "Our church is in serious pain."

Residents and church leaders in the Kaduna state are asking people to pray for divine intervention. 

The president of the Nigerian Baptist Convention, Israel Akanji, told CT that 28 students have already been returned since Monday. 

"We strongly believe that, by the grace of God, these students will safely return to their parents soon," says Akanji, citing ongoing search and rescue operations by the Nigerian military. He also expressed condolences to the families of two army soldiers who died trying to protect the school.