Nigeria: 230 schoolgirls “kidnapped by Boko Haram”

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Islamist group Boko Haram has been accused of kidnapping schoolchildren in Nigeria.

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Over 200 schoolgirls from the Chibok boarding school in the remote Nigerian region of Borno are still missing, presumed kidnapped by the militant Islamic group, Boko Haram.

Boko Haram allegedly attacked the school last week, burning the building and taking the pupils. So far, efforts to locate the missing children have been unsuccessful. The attack came during a period where schools across Borno have been closed for up to a month due to heightened tensions in the region and mounting security concerns. The missing schoolgirls had been recalled to school to sit a physics exam when the attack took place. According to one witness, over 200 Boko Haram militants carried out the attack. Asabe Kwambura, the school’s principle, said that 43 of the students had been accounted for, while 230 remain missing.

“I have not seen my dear daughter, she is a good girl,” said Musa Muka, speaking to the UK’s Channel 4 News. Muka’s daughter Martha is one of those missing. “We plead with the government to help rescue her and her friends. We pray nothing happens to her.”

The attack is the latest in a string of incidents involving Boko Haram, who also claimed responsibility for the bombing of a bus station in Abuja on the same day. The organisation was first set up in 2002, with an an early iteration going by the name the “Nigerian Taliban”. A group of around 200 sect members set up a camp dubbed “Afghanistan” in the village of Kanamma on the border with Niger. From there it launched attacks on police stations, killing policemen and stealing ammunition.

The name Boko Haram means “Western education is sacrilege (or sin)” in the local Hausa language.  The group is believed to include different factions, including those with political links as well as a hard-core Islamist cell that has drawn supporters from young people in the deeply impoverished north. Its Arabic name is Jama’atu Ahlus Sunnah Lidda’awati Wal Jihad, roughly translated as “People Committed to the Prophet’s Teachings for Propagation and Jihad”.

Find out more

Boko Haram fact-file

Nigeria: Security tightened

State of emergency extended

Will Boko Haram talk peace?

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