Abuja, Nigeria: The Nigerian government confirmed Sunday that at least 110 girls from the Government Science and Technical College in Dapchi, Yobe State in the North East are still missing after heavily armed militants in trucks invaded their school on Monday. The confirmation came after days of erroneous reports of rescues from officials which turned out to be inaccurate.
Authorities initially denied any girls had been abducted, suggesting instead they were hiding in the bush after the attack.
However, the Information Ministry now says 110 girls are unaccounted for after suspected militants invaded their school on Monday.
Not only is the number of missing school girls difficult to pin down, so too are details of the attack. Authorities had said early on that the militants were looting food rather than attempting abductions. They said the school’s almost 900 students plus their teachers had managed to run away and hide in the bush.
The government then later said that dozens of schoolgirls had been rescued following the attack. It has now admitted that information was inaccurate at best.
Parents of dozens of girls missing from Dapchi government girls’ school were waiting to be reunited with their daughters. However, the state governor told them no girls were rescued by the Nigerian army, despite earlier erroneous reports by the Army and state media which sparked street celebrations, only for forlorn families to have their hopes dashed.
“We have now established that the information we relied on to make the statement was not credible,” said Abdullahi Bego, Yobe State spokesman, on Thursday. “The Yobe State government apologizes for that.”
The militants abducted 276 girls from a boarding school in Chibok almost four years ago. While many have returned home, many others remain in captivity. Those who got away tell of surviving in the Sambisa Forest, enduring beatings and torture as well as pressure to marry their captors and convert to Islam,
Thousands of girls, boys, women and men have been abducted since 2009.
They have killed some 20,000 people and driven 2 million from their homes.
Government Girls Science and Technical College is located in the town of Dapchi in Yobe state, less than 200 miles north of the Chibok school where 276 girls (many still missing) were abducted in 2014.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said Sunday additional aircraft are being deployed, along with troops previously dispatched, to search for the missing girls.
Meanwhile, parents in Nigeria have released a list of 105 young women they say are among those still missing nearly a week after militants entered the northern town, demanding that residents direct them toward the school for girls.
Bashir Manzo, who has been heading up the relatives’ efforts, said they only took information when a girl’s mother or father appeared in person to report a missing child, so the list is expected to grow. His daughter Fatima is among those still unaccounted for.
“This list did not come from the school management or any government source but collated by us from the parents of the girls,” Bashir Manzo said. “As far as we are concerned, the governor is still being fed with fake information about these poor girls.”