About 110 Nigerian school girls have been reported missing at the hands of Boko Haram after an attack reminiscent of the group’s 2014 kidnapping of 276 schoolgirls in Chibok. The terrorist organization executed the attack on the Government Science and Technical College in Dapchi, Yobe State on February 20. The Boko Haram convoy used nine armored vehicles to enter the village and ambush the school.
Nigerian officials changed their statements several times, transmitting false information about the safety of the kidnapped girls. Originally, officials did not announce the abduction, stating that the schoolgirls hid in the bush to flee persecution. Later, the Yobe state government released a statement that incorrectly announced that the army rescued an indeterminate number of girls.
The government soon retracted this statement, confirming that none of the girls had been found. In an official statement, Information Minister Lai Mohammed specified that “the Federal Government has confirmed that 110 students of the Government Science and Technical College in Dapchi, Yobe State, are so far unaccounted for, after insurgents believed to be from a faction of Boko Haram invaded their school.” This pattern of misinformation mirrors the confusion following the Boko Haram school attack in 2014.
The abduction four years ago sparked worldwide condemnation of Boko Haram and inspired the high-profile social media campaign #BringBackOurGirls. The Nigerian government is once again facing criticism for slow response times that purportedly enabled the militants to escape. The government and the army are actively responding at this time, but a lack of transparency remains as the government attempts to secure the return of these students.
Boko Haram’s insurgency began in 2009 and continues to terrorize Nigeria with the aim of creating an Islamic state. Over the course of this insurgency, over 20,000 people have been killed. The group frequently and indiscriminately targets civilians, prompting almost two million people to flee their homes. The militant group hopes to prohibit all forms of Western education in Nigeria.