The Nigerian government has taken several initiatives to find over a hundred girls who were kidnapped at a school in Dapchi last week.
Nigerian outlet The Herald reports the incident happened the evening of Feb. 19 when militants of Boko Haram stormed through Government Girls Science Technical College in Yobe State. A total of 110 girls, aged 11 to 19, where abducted after administrators helped students vacate the school. The student body count has varied from 906 to 926, but a detailed report claims gunshots were heard when the militants entered the school.
“They were suspected to have been lurking around in disguise with the ultimate target of striking at night in the college,” the source said. “Upon hearing of gunshots heralding their coming, the principal suspected that something was amiss in Dapchi. To prevent a reoccurrence of the massacre at the Federal Government College, Buni Yadi, he quickly asked the girls to go home.”
The girls who were kidnapped were suspected to be caught by members of Boko Haram as they left the school. The school isn’t far from Chibok, where members of the terrorist organization kidnapped 300 girls from a school in 2014. While many have been freed, 100 girls are still missing.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari released a statement about the incident, calling it a “national disaster.”
I want the families of the girls yet unaccounted for at the Government Girls Technical College, Dapchi to know that no effort will be spared to ensure that all of them are returned safely, and the attackers arrested and made to face justice.
— Muhammadu Buhari (@MBuhari) February 23, 2018
Parents of the victims have called out government officials for their rescue efforts. “My daughter Aisha Kachalla is missing and we can’t get any information from school because soldiers are all over there,” Bashir Manzo told CNN Wednesday (Feb. 28). “No security came to Dapchi the day the men came, now over a hundred soldiers have taken over the village.” “We don’t want these girls to stay long with those militants. Anything can happen to them,” Kachalla Bukar, another parent, told the BBC. “We are begging the government to control the situation quickly.”
Local Yobe government falsely claimed the girls were found but later issued an apologized for the “erroneous statement”
Back and forth has rose between local officials and the Nigerian army after the army accused Yobe State Governor Ibrahim Gaidam of removing soldiers before the kidnapping without a heads up. The army later confirmed soldiers were reassigned from Dapchi after it appeared to be secure weeks before the kidnapping happened.
“We want to assure Nigerians that no stone will be left unturned in our determination to rescue these girls,” Nigeria’s Information Minister Lai Mohammed told BBC.
As the investigations continues, sources believe half of the girls have been taken to the Niger Republic while others are in the northern Borno state.