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Saturday 23 June 2018

Nigerian government admits 110 girls still missing after Boko Haram raid

Some eyewitnesses reported seeing young women being taken away at gunpoint after the raid in Dapchi.

The exterior of Government Girls Science and Tech College in Dapchi, Yobe State (AP)
The exterior of Government Girls Science and Tech College in Dapchi, Yobe State (AP)

By Haruna Umar and Sam Olukoya

Nigeria’s government has acknowledged that 110 girls are still missing nearly a week after Boko Haram militants attacked a town.

The fate of the girls is not known, but witnesses said the Islamic extremists specifically asked where the girls’ school was located after the raid in Dapchi, Yobe state.

Some eyewitnesses reported seeing young women being taken away at gunpoint.

Information minister Lai Mohammed made the announcement about the girls still being missing on Sunday after holding meetings with family members.

Many Nigerians fear the girls were abducted as brides for the Boko Haram extremists, who in 2014 kidnapped 276 girls from a boarding school in Chibok and forced them to marry their captors.

About 100 of the Chibok girls have never returned to their families nearly four years later.

Frustrated family members had already compiled a list of missing girls after saying officials had been too slow to respond.

Air Force spokesman Olatokunbo Adesanya said “the renewed efforts at locating the girls are being conducted in close liaison with other surface security forces”.

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Lai Muhammed, Nigerian minister of information, speaks to the media in Dapchi (AP)

The militants arrived in Dapchi on Monday evening, sending many fleeing into the surrounding bush amid a hail of gunfire. While Nigeria’s president has called the girls’ disappearances a “national disaster”, local officials at first falsely indicated that some of those abducted were rescued while others were hiding and would return in the coming days.

Bashir Manzo, whose daughter Fatima is among the missing, said the chances that the children are merely hiding in the bush are slim.

He said: “All those that fled into the bush had been brought back to the school on Tuesday, and a roll call was taken after which they had all gone home to meet their parents.”

Nigeria’s president said earlier no effort will be spared to locate the missing youngsters.

Muhammadu Buhari said earlier in the week: “The entire country stands as one with the girls’ families, the government and the people of Yobe State. This is a national disaster.

“We are sorry that this could have happened and share your pain. We pray that our gallant armed forces will locate and safely return your missing family members.”

Press Association

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