Early reports suggested all student escaped, but now many are thought to have been kidnapped
Initial reports of Nigerian school girls escaping a would-be Boko Haram kidnapping Monday were prematurely optimistic.
Though many of the girls have been rescued, about 100 are thought to be missing, and may have been captured. Two are said to have been found dead.
Conflicting reports added to the confusion Friday over the fate of the students, who attended a boarding school in the northern Nigerian village of Dapchi, AP reported Friday.
The Nigerian Information Minister, Lai Muhammed, who visited the town on Thursday, told a reporter that the government needed more time to determine if and how many girls are still missing.
Early reports, relying on local eyewitnesses, said that Boko Haram militants drove pickup trucks into Dapchi Monday evening, shooting off guns and setting off explosives. The noise alerted the students, who then fled for safety.
By Friday, things were looking more grim. Multiple eyewitnesses said students were taken away at gunpoint during Monday’s chaos, AP said.
“I heard them shouting: ‘Show us where the school is! Show us where the girls’ school is!'” said Usman Katarko, a farmer, who said the men were dressed like soldiers but had Arabic inscriptions on their vehicles. “When they eventually found the school, they abducted more than 90 girls.”
“Some of my colleagues were trapped and caught by the insurgents and were taken away,” said 13-year-old Fatima Bako, who managed to hide.
Other parents told the BBC they had seen girls being taken away in trucks.
Reuters quoted parents and a government official as saying that 76 girls had been rescued and at least 13 were still missing Two girls had been found dead, Reuters said, without specifying how they had died.
The episode is reminiscent of the 2014 kidnapping of 276 schoolgirls in Chibok. The mass kidnapping set off a worldwide campaign to urge the Nigerian government to do more to find the girls from Chibok. The campaign famously included an awareness-raising effort on Twitter, with the hashtag #bringbackourgirls. Although most of the girls have been reunited with their parents, in part because of a controversial prisoner swap with the Islamic State-aligned Boko Haram, about 100 girls are still missing.