Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition)

100 Nigerian school girls abducted

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DAPCHI: The sound of gunfire rang out as residents gathered for prayers at the mosque. Soon the armed fighters showed up in their trucks and made their target clear: Where was the girls’ school, they asked?

Usman Katarko, a farmer, said he knew the men were not soldiers even though they wore military uniforms because there were Arabic inscriptio­ns on their vehicles.

“I heard them shouting: ‘Show us where the school is! Show us where the girls’ school is!’ When they eventually found the school, they abducted more than 90 girls. Most of them are our friends’ and brothers’ daughters.”

Now parents say 101 girls are missing after the Boko Haram assault on Monday night, presenting Nigeria’s government with its most wrenching challenge since the Chibok mass abduction of 276 in 2014 that shocked the world.

Conflictin­g reports added to the confusion on Friday over the fate of the young women who attended the boarding school in the northern village of Dapchi.

“On the issue of the number of missing girls, we cannot give what we are not sure of… Give us a few more time, please,” urged Informatio­n Minister Lai Muhammed.

Confusion and a slow federal government response to the Chibok abductions ultimately led to an internatio­nal “Bring Back Our Girls” movement that pressured Nigeria’s leaders to make rescuing the schoolgirl­s a priority.

While many of the Chibok girls escaped or were later freed through government negotiatio­ns, about 100 were said to be indoctrina­ted by their captors and had children with them. Those women now seem lost forever to their families, unwilling to return home four years later.

While some of the Dapchi girls may still be in hiding, hope is fading.

“Some of my colleagues were caught and taken away,” said Fatima Bako, 13, who managed to hide. AP/African News Agency (ANA)

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