The Islamist militant group Boko Haram has been making bold and aggressive moves against the Nigerian public of late. Adding to their ongoing reign of terror, the group has been suspected of kidnapping now more than 200 schoolgirls from Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok. Initially, officials reported that about half of that number had been abducted.
Last week Monday, the armed militants entered the Government Girls Secondary School in the Nigerian town of Chibok and kidnapped around 230 students, say government officials. Of that number, a reported 190 are said to still be missing. There has been some confusion over the number with Isa Umar Gusau, spokesman for the Borno provincial governor’s office, saying the official number of the abducted was 234. Officials originally reported that more than 100 students were stolen.
Unlike the bus depot bombing earlier in the month in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, Boko Haram leaders have not claimed involvement in this mass kidnapping, although all signs point to the group as responsible.
There has reportedly been a lax response by the government to the kidnapping, with state governor Kashim Shettima visiting the Borno region on Tuesday — almost a week later.
As reported by Channel 4 News:
A group of Fathers took matters into their own hands, risking their lives to head into a nearby forest where Boko Haram were rumoured to be based in an attempt to try and find their daughters, but they, too, returned without any sign of their girls.
“I have not seen my dear daughter; she is a good girl,” said Musa Muka, whose 17-year-old daughter, Martha, is one of those missing. “We plead with the government to help rescue her and her friends. We pray nothing happens to her.”
Other parents have reportedly called off the search because they are lacking police support.
“We formed a search party, riding on motorcycles into the forest, searching several places until a man gave us information that he saw our girls with the abductors ahead,” said Shettima Haruna, whose daughter is missing.
“The man actually told us that our children were not far away. But he warned that the abductors were well armed and kill at will, so we decided to save our lives and returned.” Another father, Shettima Hamma, confirmed the search party had to give up because they had no armed support.
Boko Haram typically aims its violent raids and attacks against those they feel embrace Western education and culture, and they have been especially brash as of late: back in February, the group slaughtered a reported 59 students while they slept in a dormitory.
A reported 44 girls have escaped the clutches of Boko Haram since the kidnapping, but there still seems to be conflict with those numbers as well.
The kidnapping trend started in May 2013, after Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau made the order in response to the group’s claims that Nigerian security officials abducted their spouses and children.
Shetimma has promised a bounty for any information that will lead to the discovery of the missing girls.