Militants, presumed to be Boko Haram, stormed a boarding school in the town of Dapchi, north-eastern Nigeria on 19 February, kidnapping 110 students.
It was originally reported that the students had run into the bush to hide and were safe. But over a week later the government confirmed that 110 girls had been abducted from the Government Girls Science and Technical College.
So far none of the girls have been recovered. There have been rumours that half of them have been taken across the border to Niger. Extra troops have been deployed and planes are searching for the missing school girls. But many parents are not optimistic, fearing another Chibok.
ECHOES OF CHIBOK
The attack comes almost four years after Boko Haram kidnapped 276 girls from a boarding school in Chibok, Borno State. The mass kidnapping lead to the worldwide #BringBackOurGirls campaign. Many of those girls have since escaped or were rescued by the military, including Grace. But over one hundred girls are still missing.
According to World Watch Monitor’s local source, the attackers arrived at the Government Girls Science and Technical College in military vehicles and told the girls they were the army coming to protect them.
This echoes the Chibok attack, where one father told us how his daughter called him on the night of the abduction telling him soldiers had gathered everyone together. “She said, ‘there are some soldiers around us with weapons they say they are people who are looking after us not Boko Haram come to abduct us.’ I told her, ‘no, run away. Soldiers would not guard you in the night and call all of you together. You’d better run away.’ Then they heard her voice talking to me and they took her phone from her. I phoned her again. It was not answered.”
NOT JUST GIRLS
We should not forget that school girls are not the only people who were abducted. An estimated 2,000 other women, girls and young men remain in Boko Haram captivity. Boko Haram continues attacks and mass abductions from villages and roadsides. Captives are forced to convert, married off to militants and those who refuse, like Esther*, suffer extreme violence.
- For comfort and strength for those who remain captive to Boko Haram, and for their swift release
- For God to reveal himself to members of Boko Haram and turn their hearts to him
- For wisdom for the Nigerian government to know how to stop extremist violence and support victims of persecution.