President Muhammadu Buhari has said Nigeria has suffered a “national disaster” after dozens of girls went missing following an attack by Boko Haram jihadists on their school in north-east Nigeria.
“This is a national disaster. We are sorry that this could have happened,” he said in a statement, issued five days after the attack in the town of Dapchi in Yobe state.
“We pray that our gallant armed forces will locate and safely return your missing family members. Our government is sending more troops and surveillance aircraft to keep an eye on all movements in the entire territory on a 24-hour basis in the hope that all the missing girls will be found.”
There is confusion over the number missing after Monday’s attack, with estimates ranging from around 50 to more than 100.
According to a newly formed parents association 105 girls were listed as missing after the attack on their boarding school on Monday evening. With many of the girls failing to return home, fears are growing that dozens have been kidnapped, reviving memories of the mass abduction of more than 200 girls from Chibok in April 2014.
The attack has cast doubt on Nigeria’s ability to secure hard-to-reach rural areas in the remote region and the government’s repeated claims that Boko Haram is on the verge of defeat.
Boko Haram’s relentless assault on Nigeria’s north-east since 2009 has spared few, targeting not only schools but mosques and markets.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) said the tragedy of the Chibok girls’ abduction had not been forgotten and described the latest kidnapping as a “new horror”.
It said more than 2,295 teachers had been killed and almost 1,400 schools destroyed since the jihadist insurgency began in 2009. The jihadists have increasingly turned to kidnapping for ransom as a way to finance their operations and win back key commanders in prisoner swaps with the Nigerian government.
Source: The Guardian