Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped: Military 'had advance warning' but failed to act, Amnesty International claims

Security forces were given more than four hours warning before the girls were abducted, the human rights group have said

Nigeria’s military was warned of an Islamist attack on the town where more than 270 schoolgirls were kidnapped but failed to act, Amnesty International has claimed.

The human rights group accused the authorities of “gross dereliction of duty”, saying security forces knew of the Boko Haram raid in the north-eastern state of Borno almost four hours before it took place – but did too little to stop it.

However, intelligence services claimed that they had discovered the location of the gunmen and at least some of the missing girls, who are understood to have been split into groups. President Goodluck Jonathan said earlier that he believed the missing girls were still in Nigeria.

The “damning” claim that warnings failed to galvanise the military into preventing the abductions was made as the US-based organisation released details of information from its “multiple interviews with credible sources”.

Read more: What is Boko Haram?

Netsanet Belay, Amnesty’s director for Africa, said: “The fact that Nigerian security forces knew about Boko Haram’s impending raid, but failed to take [immediate steps] to stop it, will only amplify the national and international outcry at this horrific crime.

“It amounts to a gross dereliction of Nigeria’s duty to protect civilians, who remain sitting ducks for such attacks. The Nigerian leadership must now use all lawful means at their disposal to secure the girls’ safe release and ensure nothing like this can happen again.”

At 11.45pm on 14 April, 200 armed men from the militant Islamic group Boko Haram entered the town of Chibok where, after a brief gun battle with police and soldiers, they seized 276 pupils from the Government Girls Secondary School. Fifty have since escaped, but the rest remain with the insurgents.

Amnesty said the military was told of the impending attack as early as 7pm. Warnings were repeated through the evening but reinforcements failed to reach the town until the next day, long after the raid and the abductions.

Amnesty said: “An inability to muster troops – due to poor resources and a reported fear of engaging with the often better-equipped armed groups – meant that reinforcements were not deployed to Chibok that night.”

Civilian patrols in the nearby village of Gagilam were said to be among the first to report the presence of a large group of unidentified armed men on motorcycles. Among those alerted, according to Amnesty, was the Borno state governor. Herdsmen had even reported that the armed men had demanded directions to the secondary school.

An official who was contacted by residents of Gagilam reportedly told Amnesty: “I was promised by the security people that reinforcements were on their way.”

Nigerian officials said they “doubt the veracity” of the Amnesty report. “If the government was aware [beforehand] there would have been an intervention [against the militants],” the Information Minister, Labaran Maku, told BBC World TV. However, he said the government would investigate the claims.

As British experts arrived to help in the search, David Cameron said: “[This kidnapping] is … an act of pure evil.”

Saudi Arabia’s leading religious authority, Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz al-Sheikh, condemned Boko Haram as a group “set up to smear the image of Islam” and also condemned the kidnapping.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive or Senior Sales Executive - B2B Exhibitions

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

Day In a Page

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory