Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday called the abduction of scores of girls from a school in the northeast by the Islamist militant group Boko Haram a national disaster, and said he was sending more troops and reconnaissance aircraft to look for them.
There is confusion over the number missing after Monday’s attack, with estimates ranging from around 50 to more than 100. A roll-call at the girls’ school in the village of Dapchi, Yobe state, on Tuesday showed 91 students were absent.
The kidnapping may be one of the largest since Boko Haram abducted more than 270 schoolgirls from the northeastern town of Chibok in 2014. Many of those girls are still being held, though others have escaped or been freed for ransom.
This is a national disaster. We are sorry that this could have happened and share your pain.
“This is a national disaster. We are sorry that this could have happened and share your pain,” Buhari said in a statement directed to the parents of the missing girls.
I want the families of the girls yet unaccounted for at the Government Girls Technical College, Dapchi to know that no effort will be spared to ensure that all of them are returned safely, and the attackers arrested and made to face justice.— Muhammadu Buhari (@MBuhari) February 23, 2018
The military has since been deployed in response, and we are now sending more troops and surveillance aircraft to keep an eye on all movements in the entire territory on a 24-hour basis.— Muhammadu Buhari (@MBuhari) February 23, 2018
Earlier in the week he sent more security forces and a ministerial team to the area.
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 hade been killed and almost 1,400 schools destroyed since the jihadist insurgency began in 2009.
On social media, Nigerians expressed their shock and anger at the government over the missing girls using a hashtag #DapchiGirls.
What does it cost Buhari— Jackson Ude (jacksonpbn) February 21, 2018
MBuharito take a Presidential Chopper and head straight to Dapchi and assess situation by himself instead of sending emissaries? All campaign promises including the easiest one of showing leadership in the smallest things, he fail! #DapchiGirls
what we need from the govt, concerning #DapchiGirls:— Akeem Oyalowo (@keemside) February 23, 2018
1. Apologize for the incident and for the earlier misinformation that the girls had been found
2. Brief us on the actual No. of girls missing
3. meet withe parents of the missing
4. continually update us on recovery efforts
Girls will win this one. Girls are survivors. They are the anthills of the savannah which stay standing after every forest fire. They will tell generations to come the story of how they overcame. You will return alive. Your prayers and voices are heard. I pray for #DapchiGirls— UGOCHIOLUIGBOTVCNEWS (@UgochiTVCNEWS) February 23, 2018
Boko Haram, whose name roughly translates as “Western education is forbidden” in the Hausa language, is trying to create a state adhering to a strict interpretation of Islamic law.