MS Risk Blog

Four Girls Return After Being Kidnapped

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While reports surfaced late Wednesday indicating that four more girls, kidnapped by Boko Haram militants last month, had escaped than previously believed, authorities in northeast Nigerian on Thursday revised the number and denied reports that the hostages had escaped from the militants in recent days.

On Wednesday, a source at the government in north eastern Borno state had indicated that the number of girls who are currently missing was now 219, not 223 as was previously reported.  Education commissioner Musa Inuwa confirmed that four girls have since been reunited with their parents.  A senior Borno state official also indicated that it remains unclear when they escaped, adding that it may have been several weeks ago, as the parents did not contact authorities when the girls returned.  However on Thursday, authorities in Borno denied these reports, adding that the 223 girls are still missing.

The girls were taking exams at a secondary school in the remote north eastern village of Chibok on April 14 when the militants surrounded it and loaded 276 girls onto trucks and carted them off.  According to authorities in Borno state, fifty-three escaped shortly afterwards.

Wednesday’s reports came just one day after Chief of Defense Staff Air Marshal Alex Badeh indicated that the Nigerian military knew where the abducted girls were but ruled out a rescue by force for fear that this would endanger them.  Currently, most officials believe that any raid to rescue the kidnapped girls would run a high risk and that the girls would be killed by their captors as, in the past, Boko Haram has repeatedly showed ruthlessness in targeting civilians.  The United States State Department also indicated Tuesday that it did not have information, which could “support Nigeria’s claim it has located the kidnapped girls.”

The girls abduction has placed the militant group in an international spotlight. Its violent bid to establish an Islamist state in northern Nigeria has killed thousands of people over the past five years and has transformed them into the biggest threat to security in Africa’s top-oil producing state, with international officials now fearing it will develop into a regional issue.