Kidnappers of 100 Nigerian schoolgirls pretended to be soldiers, says witness

Islamic militants from Boko Haram group suspected of seizing students in anti-government raid

abuja

Suspected Muslim extremists have kidnapped about 100 girls from a school in northeastern Nigeria, less than a day after militants bombed a bus station and killed 75 people in the capital — a surge of violence that raised new doubts about the military's ability to contain an Islamic uprising.

Islamist rebels in Nigeria duped dozens of schoolgirls into thinking they were soldiers who had come to evacuate them before abducting more than 100 in their latest anti-government raid, one of the survivors said as reports emerged of another attack in the country’s north-east that left 20 dead.

Gunmen suspected to be members of the radical Boko Haram movement swooped on the town of Chibok in Borno state and its government secondary school for girls late on Monday, calling on students to leave their beds in its hostel.

The mass abduction of pupils 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 North-east, killing hundreds of people in recent months.

It occurred on the same day that 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 leading oil producer and most populous nation. Today, gunmen attacked the village of Wala, in Gwoza district, and killed 20 people.

The site of the bus station bomb in Abuja, Nigeria The site of the bus station bomb in Abuja, Nigeria

The unprecedented string of attacks has many questioning the role of politicians in the insurgency and the ability of the military to contain the Islamic uprising that has killed more than 1,500 people this year.

The Chibok students, who had returned to sit final-year exams at their school despite a state-wide closure of Borno’s educational centres because of recent Boko Haram attacks, 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,” said Godiya Isaiah, 18, who later managed to escape the abductors. 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 realised they were being kidnapped.

“We were crying,” Ms 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.

Inuwa Kubo, the Borno state education commissioner, said five other girls who also escaped told the same story. “They went into the bus unsuspecting,” he said. “They were lured into the vehicle because they were told the school was going to be attacked.”

The attackers also raided the nearby town of Chibok, ransacking shops and offices and killing several people. Boko Haram, which in the Hausa language broadly means “Western education is sinful”, has previously attacked schools as symbols of secular authority, killing pupils and teachers, as well as Christian churches and Nigerian state targets such as police, army and government offices.

Police and army patrols are still scouring the bush and hills around Chibok for the missing girls, believed to number at least 100. A military spokesman called the abductors terrorists.

Chibok is not far from a rugged area of forest, hills and caves where military officials say Boko Haram has camps near the border with neighbouring Cameroon. They have abducted girls in the past to be sex slaves for the fighters and to do camp work.

No one has claimed responsibility for the abduction or for the rush-hour bomb blast on Abuja’s outskirts, which put the capital on alert about three weeks before the city was due to host a high-profile World Economic Forum on Africa.

But President Goodluck Jonathan has pointed the finger of suspicion for the bombing at Boko Haram, bringing home to Nigerians in the centrally located capital that the Islamist insurrection ravaging poorer states hundreds of miles to the north-east could also strike closer to home.

With elections due in February, Mr Jonathan is under pressure to contain the Boko Haram insurgency and additional communal sectarian violence in northern Nigeria which badly tarnish the West African state’s newly acquired status as the largest economy on the continent.

Reuters

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before