However, by Thursday, conflicting reports had surfaced, both in the media and from Nigerian officials who often deny or downplay incidents. The BBC reported that 76 of the girls had been reportedly found. In a statement, the Yobe state government said an “unspecified number of girls” had been rescued from the terrorists who abducted them and were now with the army. Reuters news agency quoted parents and a government official, also saying that 76 girls had been rescued but at least 13 were still missing. The bodies of two girls were recovered, Reuters said, but didn’t specify how they had died.
AFP reported that the number of missing girls is still unknown. Inuwa Mohammed, whose 16-year-old daughter, Falmata, is missing, said it was a confused picture and that parents had been frantically searching surrounding villages.
“Nobody is telling us anything officially,” he told AFP. “We still don’t know how many of our daughters were recovered and how many are still missing. We have been hearing many numbers, between 67 and 94.”
Those whose daughters returned are celebrating. “Everybody is celebrating their coming with songs and praises to God almighty,” Babagana Umar, one of the parents whose daughter had disappeared, told Reuters.
But others whose children may have been aducted are fearing the worst.
“Our girls have been missing for two days, and we don’t know their whereabouts,” said Abubakar Shehu, whose niece is among the missing students. “Although we were told they had run to some villages, we have been to all these villages mentioned without any luck. We are beginning to harbor fears the worst might have happened. We have the fear that we are dealing with another Chibok scenario.” (It isn’t known if his niece was among the girls who were found or among those who are still missing.)
The insurgents arrived at the northern Nigerian town shooting and setting off explosives. Our field sources say the attackers were in military vehicles and told the girls they were the army coming to protect them. Again, there are echoes of the Chibok attack, when one Chibok survivor told World Watch Monitor that when men on several vehicles arrived at their school, “we thought they were military.”
Sixteen-year-old Aisha Yusuf Abdullahi was among the Dapchi girls who managed to escape. She told AFP: “We were in the mosque and about to start evening prayers when we heard gunshots. We rushed out and ran towards the gate. It was closed … Out of panic, some climbed the fence to jump in vehicles waiting outside, not knowing whose vehicles they were… We have not heard from those who entered the vehicles outside the school. We have the feeling they were taken by the gunmen.”
The attack comes almost four years after Boko Haraman extremist group that is located primarily in Northern Nigeria kidnapped more than 270 girls from a school in the town of Chibok in April 2014. To date, more than 100 Chibok girls are still missing. The Chibok and now Dapchi girls represent a fraction of the women captured by the militant group, which has kidnapped thousands during its eight-year insurgency in northern Nigeria.
Please pray for the two families who will soon bury their daughters and for the safe rescue of the remaining Dapchi and Chibok girls. Pray for the Lord’s working in their lives as they face this ordeal. And pray for the more than 100 groups of Chibok parents whose children are still missing almost four years after they were taken.
Photo: Parents of Chibok missing victims gather at a church two years after the girls were abducted.