Nigeria school abductions: mystery over fate of missing girls
Confusion surrounds what has happened to the 129 girls who were kidnapped from their school in Nigeria by gunmen.
The Nigerian army claimed to have freed most of the teenagers and said only eight were still missing.
But reports today said most of the girls, aged 15 to 18, had not returned after the mass abduction.
A military statement said 129 students were taken during the attack on the Government Girls' Secondary School at Chibok in Borno state, believed to have been carried out by the separatist group Boko Haram – whose name means “Western education is forbidden”.
Major General Chris Olukolade said yesterday one of the gunmen had been captured and added: “With this development, the principal of the school has confirmed that only eight of the students are still missing.”
But today the BBC's correspondent in Lagos said the claim that most of the girls had escaped or been freed contradicted reports given to them, including from parents.
And the school's principal Asabe Kwambura told the Associated Press that only 14 of the 129 abducted girls had returned.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued a statement on the mass kidnapping. He said: “The targeting of schools and schoolchildren is a grave violation of international humanitarian law.
“Schoosl are, and must remain, safe places where children can learn and grow in peace.”
Gordon Brown, the UN Special Envoy for Global Education, said: “It is time for the world to wake up to the dangers being faced by girls and boys who simply want to go to school in Nigeria.
“The threat to children who simply want an education has led to hundreds of deaths in the last three years.
“Massacres of innocent boys and girls are not uncommon.”
He said Boko Haram had killed more than 1500 people – hundreds of them children – this year alone.
Mr Brown added: “We will support the Nigerian government to ensure that violence against children is stopped and all Nigerian boys and girls have the right to go to school safely.”