Boko Haram gunmen kidnapped at least 30 boys and girls from a village in northeast Nigeria during the weekend.
The abductions are the latest in a string of recent kidnappings by Boko Haram that dims hope for the anticipated release of 219 schoolgirls held by the group since April following a controversial ceasefire declared by Nigerian authorities.
Heavily armed Boko Haram gunmen invaded the town of Mafa, in Borno state, on Friday through Saturday and seized 30 boys and girls, local leaders said.
The news of the kidnappings was slow to emerge due to lack of telecom service in the region, where most telecom towers have been destroyed in Boko Haram's five-year insurgency against Nigeria's government.
The terrifying news began to spread before the gun-wielding Islamist militants made it into Chibok last month. Villagers began to receive cell phone calls that the feared extremist group Boko Haram was on the way.
No one knew what the attack would entail, that it would mean hundreds of schoolgirls plucked from their beds by a group of extremists who would later threaten to sell them.
"It's like they were coming for a shopping trip," a villager who witnessed the attack told CNN.
Some lucky girls managed to escape that night when, after they were loaded into cargo trucks, they made a dash for freedom.
"We would rather die than go," one of the girls told CNN. "We ran into the bush. We ran and we ran."
With fear in her eyes and voice, the young woman, who asked not to be identified, described the experience to a CNN crew that made the long, dangerous trip to her village.
She said she and two friends who had also escaped saw something on fire and headed in that direction, presuming it was building in the village that had been set ablaze. Normally, Chibok is pitch black at night.
Officials have said that Boko Haram militants abducted 276 girls from the boarding school on April 14 and that some escaped into a forest.
Villagers said they passed along warnings to local police that the terrorists were on their way that night. They said they received phone calls from family and friends from surrounding villages and were told that there was a convoy of cargo trucks, pickups and motorcycles heading their way.
One villager said he was told, "They are coming for you. Run!"
The villagers said police called for reinforcements, but none came. Everyone, including the police, fled into the bush during the attack. But the girls were asleep in their dorms.
The stories appear to confirm an Amnesty International report that the government couldn't put together enough troops to head off the attack.
The girl who described her escape to CNN was still shaken up by the events. When asked to describe what her kidnappers wore, she responded: "I feel afraid."
Her school is closed, but if it were open, she says, she wouldn't go back.
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The United States is offering its help, but making clear that the Nigerian government must take the lead in finding more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by the Islamist militant group Boko Haram.
Officials told CNN the Obama administration is sharing intelligence with Nigerian authorities and could provide other assistance, but there is no planning to send U.S. troops.
With a World Economic Forum gathering set to begin Wednesday in Abuja, the Nigerian government came under mounting pressure to save the girls abducted in the country's remote northeast and threatened with being sold into slavery.
On a trip to Africa, Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States "will do everything possible to support the Nigerian government to return these young women to their homes and to hold the perpetrators to justice."
In Washington, U.S. officials offered few specific details on American help being provided.
"We are going to keep working with the Nigerians privately on that," State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters. "Obviously they have come out very publicly and said that they are, you know, making every effort to find these girls. I just don't think we are going to outline how we are helping them. What we are focused on is making sure they can find (the girls) and bring them home to their families."
See the latest on this story on "Early Start."
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