Boko Haram seizes kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls’ home town of Chibok

Chibok girls, Children in conflicts

The Nigerian town of Chibok – where more than 270 schoolgirls were abducted more than six months ago – has been seized by the Islamic militant group Boko Haram.

Residents told how gunmen attacked and exchanged fire with soldiers before destroying communications masts and forcing locals to flee. Some reports say several people have been killed.

Chibok, which is in Borno state, became known across the world after Boko Haram kidnapped the girls from the Government Girls Secondary School. The mass abduction sparked global outrage and Chibok and #BringBackOurGirls were on every newspaper front page and on every Twitter stream.

Many of the girls escaped but there are still 219 missing and Boko Haram claims they have converted to Islam and has threatened to marry them off. Recently it denied it had reached a truce with the Nigerian government which would involve freeing the girls.

Locals said Boko Haram stormed into Chibok at about 4pm yesterday after overrunning the towns of Hong and Gombi in neighbouring Adamawa state.

Boko Haram video of the abducted Chibok schoolgirls

Enoch Mark, a Christian pastor whose daughter and niece are among the schoolgirls being held, said: “Chibok was taken by Boko Haram. They are in control.”

Tsambido Hosea Abana, a Chibok community leader with cousins and nieces among the missing girls, told the Guardian: “Our girls are in the bush and they are killing the parents. We are talking about the lives of the parents and adults now. This thing has gone beyond anyone’s control.”

The Boko Haram gunmen rode into the town shooting from pickup trucks and motorbikes, according to Bana Lawan, chairman of the Chibok local government.

He told Associated Press: “Nobody can tell you what is happening there today because everybody is just trying to escape with their lives.”

The damaged school in Chibok after the mass abduction in April

It is believed that none of the girls who escaped after the Chibok school kidnappings was in the town at the time. They have been given scholarships at other schools in northeastern Nigeria.

Many residents had feared the return of Boko Haram and had already moved to other areas. News of the attack was slow to filter through because the communications masts had been destroyed.

The takeover of Chibok follows another suspected Boko Haram attack in the northeastern town of Potiskum. At least 47 students died when a suicide bomber dressed in school clothes caused a massive explosion at the Government Comprehensive Senior Science Secondary School in Yobe State. All schools in the state have been closed until security for students, teachers and parents can be guaranteed.

On November 6, it was anounced that 2400 students from three states hit hardest by Boko Haram’s terrorist activities are to be the first enrolled in Nigeria’s Safe Schools Initiative.

The first batch of children in the Safe Schools Initiative are from Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states, where a state of emergency has been enforced after killings, abductions and attacks on schools.

Children in conflict is one of the 100 Days targets of the #EducationCountdown. You can read more about the campaign and what actions you can take.

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