Search called off for 230 abducted Nigerian schoolgirls
PARENTS of more than 230 girls abducted from their boarding school by Nigerian Islamists linked to al-Qa'ida have had to call off their search for their missing daughters because of a lack of police back-up.
Several parents described how they were forced to carry out their own search for the girls without help from authorities, but had to pull back when they were close to where they believe the hostages were being held, in a dense forest.
"We formed a search party, riding on motorcycles into the forest, searching several places until a man gave us information that he saw our girls with the abductors ahead," said Shettima Haruna, whose daughter is missing.
"The man actually told us that our children were not far away. But he warned that the abductors were well armed and kill at will, so we decided to save our lives and returned."
Another father, Shettima Hamma, confirmed that the search party had to give up because it had no armed support.
"We trailed the abductors of our daughters far into very dangerous places inside the forest, but we couldn't go further because we have no sophisticated weapons that could match that of those holding our daughters," he said.
No one has claimed responsibility for the April 14 attack on the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, a town in Borno state in northern Nigeria, however Boko Haram is suspected.
The group, which has ties to al-Qa'ida's Saharan and Somali proxies, is fighting for strict Islamic law to be introduced across Nigeria's north.
More than 1,500 people have already died in the conflict this year, including 75 in a car bomb at a bus station near the capital Abuja on the same day of the abduction.
Parents have disputed the number of girls taken hostage. The headmaster claimed on Tuesday that more than 230 pupils were initially kidnapped and only 39 had escaped.
The mass abduction is a major embarrassment for Nigeria's military, which had announced last week that security forces had rescued all but eight of those kidnapped, but it was then was forced to retract the statement.
Musa Muka's 17-year-old daughter, Martha Musa, was preparing to sit her O-Levels when she was abducted.
"I have not seen my dear daughter. She is a good girl, we plead with government to help rescue her and her friends. We pray nothing happens to her," Mr Muka said. (© Daily Telegraph, London)