The Nigerian military has managed to rescue 76 schoolgirls and recovered the bodies of two others out of an estimated 90 girls who had gone missing following an attack by the Takfiri Boko Haram militant group on a school in the country’s northeast.
“Everybody is celebrating their coming with songs and praises to God almighty,” said Babagana Umar, a parent whose daughter had disappeared, on Wednesday. “The only sad news is that two girls were dead and no explanation.”
According to Umar and other residents of the small town of Dapchi in the state of Yobe, where a school was raided by the terror outfit on Monday evening, at least 13 other students may still be missing.
According to eyewitnesses, the Boko Haram militants descended on Dapchi in trucks, some with heavy guns mounted on them and painted in military camouflage. They then went straight to the Girls Science Secondary School and began shooting sporadically, forcing panicked students and teachers to flee.
There are conflicting reports about how exactly the girls went missing. Police and state officials said that 815 of the school’s 926 students had later returned to the school after fleeing into the bush outside the town during the attack.
Police and state officials said that there had been no evidence that the missing girls had been kidnapped by Boko Haram, suggesting that the rescued ones had been recovered from their hiding places.
However, the Yobe government later said in a statement that the military had rescued some of the students from the grips of the terror group.
Separately, Information Minister Lai Mohammed said Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari had on Wednesday dispatched his foreign and defense ministers to Yobe to investigate the incident.
Since 2009, the Boko Haram militancy has left at least 20,000 dead and made over 2.6 million others homeless.
Back in 2014, the Takfiri terrorist group kidnapped more than 270 schoolgirls from the town of Chibok in Borno State. The mass abduction triggered global condemnation and intense criticism of Nigerian officials in the country. An international campaign dubbed “Bring Back Our Girls” was also launched.
Of the 276 students originally abducted, nearly 60 escaped soon after the incident and some others have since been released after mediation. Some 100 are still believed to remain in captivity.
Last month, the terror outfit released a video allegedly showing some of the Chibok girls still in its custody, saying they do not wish to return home.