Islamist Rebels Kidnap Over 100 Nigerian Schoolgirls
This story out of Nigeria’s ongoing conflict with Islamist rebels doesn’t sound like it’s going to end well:
(Reuters) – Islamist rebels duped dozens of Nigerian schoolgirls into thinking they were soldiers come to evacuate them before abducting over 100 in their latest anti-government raid, one of the survivors said on Wednesday.
Gunmen suspected to be members of the radical Islamist movement Boko Haram swooped on Chibok town in Borno state and on its nearby all-girls government secondary school late on Monday, calling on the students to leave their beds in the hostel.
The mass abduction of schoolgirls aged between 15 and 18 has shocked Nigeria and showed how the five-year-old Boko Haram insurgency has brought lawlessness to swathes of the arid, poor northeast, killing hundreds of people in recent months.
It occurred the same day a bomb blast, also blamed on Boko Haram, killed 75 people on the edge of the capital Abuja, stirring fears of violence spreading from the north of Africa’s No. 1 oil producer and most populous nation.
The Chibok students, who had returned to sit final-year certificate exams at their school despite a Borno state-wide closure of educational centers because of recent Boko Haram attacks in the northeast, initially obeyed the armed visitors, thinking they were Nigerian troops there to protect them.
“When we saw these gunmen, we thought they were soldiers, they told all of us to come and walk to the gates, we followed their instructions,” 18-year-old Godiya Isaiah, who later managed to escape the abductors, told Reuters.
But when the armed men started ransacking the school stores and set fire to the building, the terrified girls being herded at gunpoint into vehicles realized they were being kidnapped.
“We were crying,” Isaiah said, recounting how she later jumped from a truck and ran away to hide in the bush. Other girls were packed into a bus and some pick-ups.
One hopes that these girls will be rescued soon and safely, but the reputation that Boko Haram has created for itself over the past five years sadly leads to the conclusion that this is unlikely. I hope I’m wrong about that.