Nigerian military sources told international media that eight of the 129 Nigerian schoolgirls from the Government Girls Secondary School who were abducted by gunmen in March remain missing.
The gunmen are believed to be members of the Boko Haram Islamist group who reportedly arrived at the boarding school in Chibok, Borno as the students slept in their dormitories. After engaging the soldiers guarding the school in a lengthy gun battle, the gunmen burned homes, went into the dormitories and herded the girls onto buses, vans and trucks and drove off.
According to the BBC, a girl who managed to escape said she and her schoolmates were taken away in a convoy, which had to slow down after some of the vehicles developed mechanical problems. She and approximately 10 to 15 girls seized the opportunity to escape.
It was not clear how the remaining girls were released, but Nigerian officials in Borno said they are still searching for the eight missing girls.
The mass abduction of the schoolgirls, all between the ages of 15 and 18, occurred the same day a bomb blast also blamed on Boko Haram killed at least 75 people in the country’s capital.
Nicole C. Lee, president of foreign police advocacy group TransAfrica, told the AFRO that the organization was very concerned about the situation.
“I think it’s really important to note that this is everyday citizens and we would like to call on the insurgent group to cease and desist from targeting civilians,” said Lee.
Boko Haram, which means “Western education is sinful,” became an extremist Islamist group in 2003 and has waged a campaign of violence aimed at creating a strict Islamic state in northern Nigeria.
According to Human Rights Watch, Boko Haram attacks have increased during the first two months of this year, with almost daily killings, bombings, thefts, as well as the destruction of schools, homes, and businesses in northeastern Nigerian villages. These assaults have led to the deaths of 700 people, the abduction of at least 25 women and girls, and the mass displacement of residents.
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