MAIDUGURI, Nigeria, (Reuters) – Nigeria’s northeast Borno state said yesterday only 20 of up to 129 schoolgirls abducted by Islamist rebels were back with their parents, and the military retracted an earlier statement in which it said it had freed most of them.
The armed forces said on Wednesday that the military had freed all but eight of the schoolgirls abducted by Islamist rebels from the Boko Haram group in a rescue operation.
Monday’s mass abduction of the schoolgirls aged between 15 and 18 shocked Nigeria, a nation growing increasingly inured to tales of horror from its bloody insurgency in the northeast
The raid on the Chibok school showed how the five-year-old Boko Haram insurgency has brought lawlessness to swathes of the semi-arid, poor region. Hundreds of people have been killed in violence in recent months.
“So far, we have seen 20 students, many of whom escaped from the abductors. The principal of the school has so far received (them),” Borno state Education Commissioner Inuwa Kubo told Reuters by telephone from the school.
“Many of the parents are still waiting in pain.”
A statement late on Thursday from Defence Headquarters spokesman Chris Olukolade concurred with this.
“In the light of the denial by the principal of the school, the Defence Headquarters wishes to defer to the school principal and governor’s statement on the number of students still missing and retract (the) … earlier statement while the search continues,” Olukolade said.