Despite widely circulated media reports suggesting otherwise, the government of Zamfara, a state in Northwest Nigeria, has said hundreds of schoolgirls who were abducted from their dormitories on Friday were still with their captors.
On Friday, heavily armed terrorists stormed Government Girls’ Secondary School in Jangebe, Talata-Mafara Local Government Area of the state.
They dressed in army fatigues pretending to be security personnel, and then broke into the hostels, abducting 317 students.
A student reportedly escaped the kidnappers on Saturday, according to a CNN report.
On Sunday morning, multiple national dailies reported that the girls had gained their freedom and were headed to Gusau, the state capital.
But Suleiman Tunau Anka, the state commissioner of information, clarified that the schoolgirls were yet to be released, on Sunday afternoon.
Anka said efforts were ongoing to secure the release of the students.
The commissioner urged the public to disregard any report saying the students had been released.
“I want to call the attention of good people of Zamfara state, they should disregard any fake news regarding the release of abducted students of GGSS Jangebe by one national daily, it’s not true. But Alhamdulillah the state government and securities are their trying their best,” he said in a Twitter post.
The attack is the third mass abduction of students in three months amid a rising wave of attacks on villages in northwest and northeast regions.
It came barely two weeks after hundreds of schoolboys were abducted in Niger State, Northcentral Nigeria by the terrorists known locally as bandits. They were later released on Saturday.
The incident also happened a day after Bello Matawalle, Governor of Zamfara State, said some repentant terrorists had surrendered their arms.
Matawalle has been pushing for a peace dialogue with the terrorists since he came to power.
But President Muhammadu Buhari has said his administration would not bow to blackmail by terrorists “who target innocent school students in the expectations of huge ransom payments.”
The president also warned state governments against incentivising terrorists with money and vehicles, adding that it may backfire disastrously.
Mohammed Sheu, the police spokesperson in the state, said a “heavily-armed” joint rescue operation was underway to free the children.
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