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In Nigeria, the mass abduction of schoolgirls isn't shocking

By Holly Yan and Vladimir Duthiers CNN | 4/22/2014, 8:47 a.m.

ABUJA, Nigeria - The heavily armed militants stormed the girls dormitory in the middle of the night, herding more than 200 students on to vehicles and burning down nearby buildings as they made their escape.

That was a week ago Monday.

Of the 230 students abducted from the Government Girls Secondary School in the Nigerian town of Chibok, about 190 are still missing, one official said.

The number of girls taken from the school has been revised by officials several times, and on Monday, CNN spoke with Principal Asabe Kwambura, who said a new figure of at least 230 was determined after reviewing records and taking reports from parents.

Isa Umar Gusau, a spokesman for the Borno provincial governor's office, put the number at 234 -- 129 science students and 105 art students.

He said in a written statement that the confusion resulted because the art students didn't leave campus as expected on the day of the attack. The head of the dormitory initially didn't count them among the missing.

No one knows where the missing girls are. And even more surprising, no one's particularly shocked.

"All the community are sympathizing with the parents," Kwambura told CNN earlier. But, she said, "the people in the villages are not surprised."

Such is life in the lawless Borno province.

Tucked away near the border with Cameroon, with phone services cut off and travel strongly discouraged, this poor corner of Nigeria is no stranger to such brazen, violent acts.

For 11 months, the provinces of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa have been under a state of emergency due to relentless assaults blamed on Boko Haram.

The Islamist militant group has bombed churches and mosques; kidnapped women and children; and assassinated politicians and religious leaders.

Boko Haram -- whose name means "Western education is sin" in the local Hausa language -- says it wants to impose a stricter enforcement of Sharia law across Africa's most populous nation.

The group has gone about its misguided mission with such depressing regularity that residents have become somewhat numb.

Where's the president?

Nigerians marvel that U.S. President Barack Obama traveled to Massachusetts after the Boston Marathon bombings that killed three people last year.

Boko Haram-related violence killed 1,500 in the first three months of this year alone. And yet, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has not visited the region recently.

Part of it may have to do with geographic divisions.

Jonathan is from the predominantly Christian south. That's not just geographically distant but also culturally different from the Muslim-dominated, violence-wracked north.

To put things in perspective, none of Jonathan's major political rivals from the north attended his inauguration in 2011. And widespread violence broke out in the north when his presidential win was announced, with some residents claiming the election was rigged.

It's the opposite of what happened with Jonathan's predecessor.

The previous president, Umaru Yar'Adua, was from the north. During his tenure, violence ravaged the country's oil-rich, southern Niger Delta, with militant groups saying they wanted a fairer distribution of the region's oil wealth.