Nigeria: High school girls kidnapped and released after Boko Haram attack

In Nigeria, the army reportedly released a number of 111 girls that were missing on 21 February after being kidnapped by Boko Haram in Dapchi, Yobe State.

According to the police, they were abducted while they were at the mosque for the evening prayer.

The statement released by the governor of the state, which announces this rescue operation, however provides little details.

The families of the schoolgirls kidnapped remain worried.

Families, who do not know if their daughters have been found, fear a new Chibok affair. They know this village too well in Borno, a neighbouring state, where more than 200 high school girls were kidnapped by Boko Haram four years ago.

Some families are rather optimistic. Especially since a statement from the spokesman for the governor of Yobe State announced that a number of Dapchi girls were released by the Nigerian army on February 21, 48 hours after their kidnapping.

But the statement provides little details on the rescue operation and does not specify how many girls were rescued.

Ado Mohammed is the father of a 15-year-old girl known as Mariam, who was allegedly kidnapped in by Boko Haram.

His brothers and sisters, he says, worry about her. “They know that one of their sisters has been missing, so, yes, they are afraid that something will happen to her,” he says.

They keep asking me: “when will she come back? I tell them not to get impatient and that they will come back quickly by the grace of God.”

Scenario at Chibok

Witnesses describe heavily armed Boko Haram jihadists shooting in the air and detonating grenades. Among their targets were shops where they look for food and equipment and also a college.

As in Chibok 4 years ago, a school of Catholic girls was targeted. The students and teachers were over 700 at the time of the attack and tried to flee into the bush for fear of being abducted.

The authorities explain that the census is still in progress, that some have taken refuge in neighbouring villages, sometimes 30 km from their homes.

But the families of schoolgirls are starting to fear the worst: they explained that the attackers have already done research in all villages in the area. For them, the spectre of a new Chibok is looming.

As for the motivation of the attackers, they remain unclear: they could be attracted by ransoms in exchange for the release of schoolgirls or simply seek food and spread terror by keeping the pressure on the authorities.

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