More Than 90 Schoolgirls Were Kidnapped by Boko Haram in Nigeria This Week — And No One Knows If They’ve Been Rescued
“Why did they lie to us?”
The Nigerian town of Dapchi appeared to have narrowly avoided a major scare this week, after officials said that 76 schoolgirls, abducted by militants believed to be Boko Haram, had been rescued by Nigerian security forces.
Now, it turns out that the girls may still be missing, Reuters reports.
“The government said yesterday the girls have been found, then the governor came today to say the soldiers are yet to find them,” Ali Maidoya, a resident of Dapchi, told Reuters. “Why did they lie to us before?”
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The girls were first reported missing Monday night, when insurgents drove into town in trucks mounted with “heavy guns” and attacked an all-girls school.
On Wednesday, a government official reportedly said that 76 of the 91 girls who had been abducted had been rescued — and that two were killed in the attack.
But on Thursday, four parents who spoke with state governor Ibrahim Gaidam said they were told the girls had not, in fact, been rescued.
The Dapchi girls, whose fate remains unclear at this point, would not be the first to be abducted by the extremist group Boko Haram, which operates primarily in Nigeria.
In 2014, 276 girls from the town of Chibok were captured in a Boko Haram raid and held in captivity. This May, 82 girls were freed in a prisoner swap, but more than 100 are still being held.
Experts fear that the Dapchi girls could become the next Chibox. BBC World Service Africa editor Will Ross called this week’s events a “chilling echo of Chibok.”
On Wednesday, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari assured that the military and police had been mobilized to find the girls.
I share the anguish of all the parents and guardians of the girls that remain unaccounted for. I would like to assure them that we are doing all in our power to ensure the safe return of all the girls.— Muhammadu Buhari (@MBuhari) February 21, 2018
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“I share the anguish of all the parents and guardians of the girls that remain unaccounted for,” he wrote on Twitter. “I would like to assure them that we are doing all in our power to ensure the safe return of all the girls.”
UK Secretary of State Boris Johnson also called for an end to the abductions.
Deeply concerned by reports that schoolgirls have been abducted in Nigeria – UK urgently following up with Nigerian authorities. Attacks on schools are abhorrent and must stop. Every girl deserves a safe education.— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) February 21, 2018
“Deeply concerned by reports that schoolgirls have been abducted in Nigeria – UK urgently following up with Nigerian authorities,” he wrote. “Attacks on schools are abhorrent and must stop. Every girl deserves a safe education.”
Global Citizen will continue to update this article as more information becomes available.