Voice of America (Washington, DC)

17 April 2014

Nigerian Principal Says Most Abducted Girls Still Missing

Nigeria's northeast Borno state said on Thursday only 20 of up to 129 schoolgirls abducted by Islamist rebels were back with their parents, casting ... ( Resource: Nigerian State Says Most Abducted Schoolgirls Still Missing

The principal of a Nigerian school where 107 girls were abducted Wednesday is denying a military announcement that most of the girls have been recovered.

Nigeria's Joint Information Center said late Wednesday that only eight of the abducted students were still missing.

But Asabe Kwambura, the principal of the school the girls attended in Borno state, told VOA Thursday there is "nothing in the military statement that is true." She said she only knows of 14 of the girls being released, and that the military and volunteers are continuing search efforts.

A top official from Nigeria's Department of State Services in Maiduguri told VOA they also had no information about additional girls being released. The official said it is possible the military has its own information that he was not aware of yet.

Advisor Reuben Abati said Wednesday that President Goodluck Jonathan was particularly concerned about the kidnapping, and had ordered security forces to "deploy maximum efforts" to rescue them.

Mr. Jonathan also summoned his National Security Council to a Thursday meeting in Abuja in light of the kidnappings and a string of deadly attacks carried out by militants in order to review security measures and determine "the best way forward."

There were no initial claims of responsibility for the kidnappings. But the assault is similar to attacks that have been carried out by the Boko Haram Islamist militant group.

In a statement, defense director Major General Chris Olukolade also said one of the "terrorists" who carried out the school attack had been captured.

The incident took place on the same day that a bomb ripped through a crowded bus station in Abuja, killing at least 75 people.

The government of the Borno state region announced it was offering a reward of nearly $300,000 for information leading to the rescue of the abducted school girls.

In a VOA interview, Nigerian Union of Teachers chairman Dauda Maina pleaded for the students' safe return and for the government to improve school security.

"We are very saddened and we totally condemn the abduction of those school children and we are begging the government to help the people. Our advice is that security measures must be improved. All those schools needed to be fenced so that there will be an entrance and an exit into the school as opposed to how they are just open buildings in the middle of nowhere."

An unidentified parent in the region urged the kidnappers to free the girls.

"We, the parents, are really shocked. Please, please, please have mercy. Be merciful and release those children."

The abductions were also condemned by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's office.

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