Islamist militants kidnap about 200 schoolgirlscomment (0)
May 1, 2014
Islamist Boko Haram militants kidnapped hundreds of schoolgirls in Nigeria in mid-April.
The girls were abducted while at school in the Chibok area of Borno State. Initial reports said about 200 were kidnapped, but government officials lowered the figure to 130. On April 21, school officials said 234 were abducted and 43 girls had managed to escape.
The military had said in an earlier statement that it had freed more than 100 of 130 girls it had said were abducted but retracted the statement April 22. The discrepancy in the figures could not immediately be resolved, according to USA Today. Government forces were reportedly searching a forest near the border with Cameroon with help of vigilantes and local volunteers.
“We know no religion (that) prescribes abduction or infliction of pain as a way of devotion,” said Titus Pona, an official with the Christian Association of Nigeria. “We are calling on them to sheathe their arms and pursue their case in dialogue with the government.”
Boko Haram translates to “Western education is forbidden” in the Hausa language. For five years the insurgents have unleashed violence in northern Nigeria, but the girls’ abduction is viewed as the most terrifying so far.
More than 1,500 people have been killed in the insurgency so far in 2014, compared with an estimated 3,600 between 2010 and 2013, according to The Associated Press.
John Bakeni, a Roman Catholic priest in Borno, said, “This violence continues because the militants have support from powerful people in Nigerian society.”
Nigeria’s top Muslim leader, the sultan of Sokoto, Al-Haji Sa’ad Abubakar III, condemned the abduction.
“We sympathize with the victims and their teachers and families,” he said in a statement. “We call on the authorities to put all the needed efforts to free these innocent girls and (let) them continue with their studies.”