Nigeria Launches Search for Abducted SchoolgirlsApril 16, 2014 in Nigeria
The Nigerian military has joined the search for at least 100 teenage girls who were abducted from a secondary school in the remote north-eastern region of Nigeria. It is believed that Boko Haram militants are behind the kidnapping and that they may have taken the group to a forest located near the Cameroonian border. Officials have indicated that the air force, army, police and local volunteers are involved in the search.
Sources have indicated that the gunmen, riding in trucks and on motorcycles, stormed the town after sundown, torching several buildings before opening fire on troops who were guarding the school. The gun battle, which occurred on Monday, reportedly lasted several hours however the militants were ultimately able to overpower the troops and enter the school. According to multiple eyewitnesses, some of the schoolgirls in the Chibok area of southern Borno state narrowly escaped their kidnappers by jumping off a truck in the middle of the night as the gunmen sought to take them away. According to a security source, “we were able to follow the path of the trucks and we found it broke down deep in the bush,” adding “we are now trying to locate the whereabouts of the abducted girls.” A local politician has indicated that about fifty army soldiers had been stationed near the school ahead of annual exams.
Boko Haram has repeatedly attacked schools in the northeast region, during an insurgency that has killed thousands since 2009. In an attack earlier this year in Borno state, eyewitnesses reported that Boko Haram gunmen had surrounded a girl’s school, forcing the student to leave and ordering them to immediately return to their villages. The militant group has also been blamed for a series of school massacres, including the mass shooting of students in their sleep earlier this year in Yobe state. Such attacks, coupled with Boko Haram’s insurgency, have crippled education in Borno, with schools across the state being shut down in a bid to curb such attacks.