Boko Haram school attack: two girls killed and 76 rescued, official says
The Nigerian military rescued 76 schoolgirls and recovered the bodies of two others on Wednesday, after the students went missing during a Boko Haram attack on a village, three parents, a resident and a local government official have told Reuters.
At least 13 students might still be missing, and Reuters was unable to determine how the two girls died. Earlier on Wednesday, sources told Reuters that 91 people were unaccounted for after a roll-call at their school on Tuesday.
“Everybody is celebrating their coming with songs and praises to God almighty,” said Babagana Umar, one of the parents whose daughter had disappeared. “The only sad news is that two girls were dead and no explanation.”
The rescued girls were returned to the village of Dapchi late on Wednesday, Umar and other residents said.
Islamist insurgent group Boko Haram attacked Dapchi in the north-eastern state of Yobe on Monday evening.
Police and state officials said on Wednesday there was no evidence the girls had been abducted, though the Yobe government later said in a statement the military had rescued some of the students from Boko Haram.
Nigerian authorities often deny or downplay such incidents, including the Chibok girl kidnapping and more recent abductions, as well as the scale of Boko Haram attacks in the north-east.
Nigeria is still haunted by Boko Haram’s abduction of more than 270 schoolgirls from the town of Chibok in 2014. That case drew global attention to the nine-year insurgency, which has sparked what the United Nations has called one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.
President Muhammadu Buhari sent his foreign and defence ministers to Yobe on Wednesday to investigate the situation, said information minister Lai Mohammed, who was also headed there. He declined to confirm whether any of the students were missing.
Parents and witnesses who told Reuters of the missing students spoke on condition of anonymity because they said they had been warned by Nigerian security and government officials not to disclose the disappearance.
The Boko Haram militants arrived in Dapchi on Monday evening in trucks, some mounted with heavy guns and painted in military camouflage, witnesses told Reuters.
They went directly to the school, shooting sporadically, sending students and teachers fleeing, the witnesses said, adding that some people had returned to Dapchi after spending the night hiding in the bush.
Yobe state police commissioner Sumonu Abdulmaliki said on Tuesday Boko Haram had also abducted three people from nearby Gaidam.
Since Boko Haram began its insurgency in 2009, more than 20,000 people have been killed and 2 million forced to flee their homes in the north-east of Africa’s most populous nation.
Of about 270 girls abducted from their school in Chibok in April 2014, about 60 escaped soon afterwards and others have since been released after mediation. About 100 are still believed to be in captivity.
Last month, Boko Haram released a video purporting to show some of the Chibok girls still in its custody, saying they did not wish to return home.
Aid groups have said that Boko Haram has kidnapped thousands more adults and children, many of whose cases have been neglected.