Four days after the attack on a school in Datchi, the greatest confusion reigned in this city in northeastern Nigeria, where clashes erupted between police and residents, still without news of dozens of girls missing.
Police said Wednesday that 111 students from Dapchi’s girls boarding school had been missing since an attack by jihadist group Boko Haram fighters on Monday night.
Their disappearance has revived the fear of a “new Chibok”, the name of the city of the neighboring state of Borno where Boko Haram had taken 276 students from a boarding school in April 2014, causing a wave of indignation worldwide.
“The choice of Boko Haram targets, schools, markets and places of worship reflect the cruelty of terrorist organizations,” US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Thursday.
Yobe State Governor Ibrahim Gaidam finally told the parents of missing students on Thursday that they had not been “saved” by the army, as his spokesman said the night before. .
“No one has seen these girls being taken in vehicles, it is possible that some of them have met motorcyclists while fleeing and they have taken them somewhere,” Gaidam said during his visit. in the residence of the head of the community.
Faced with these contradictory announcements, angry young people then erected barricades and burned tires on the road, stalling the convoy of the governor, noted an AFP journalist.
Several vehicles were damaged by stone throwing, while police and soldiers chased the crowd.
Yobe’s government was the first to officially confirm an abduction.
- The circumstances remain unclear –
But the exact circumstances of the attack, and even the number of missing girls, remain unclear, with most of the teachers and students at this boarding school of several hundred beds having fled into the darkness through the bush to escape the jihadists when they heard fire.
A delegation from the federal government made the trip to the school – where it spent less than an hour – from the capital Abuja to meet with the governor and military commanders before departing by helicopter.
Information Minister Lai Mohammed did not provide much more explanations, stating only that “some (students) phoned from their hiding place … others telephoned from other places”.
“We can not categorically say that + more girls have been abducted, but we can say that not all of them have returned,” he told reporters in Dapchi.
Inuwa Mohammed, whose 16-year-old daughter, Falmata, is missing, said she was “devastated by the turn of events,” saying that his wife had just been admitted to the hospital after fainting.
“I woke up with the strong hope of finding my daughter and my wife had prepared a warm welcome, all to hear that this whole story was just a rumor,” he said. .
- ‘I heard the girls scream’ –
If the girls are not found quickly, it will be a snub for President Muhammadu Buhari, elected in 2015 on the promise to end the Boko Haram insurgency.
According to local residents, the heavily armed insurgents attacked Dapchi locality on Monday evening, firing into the air and detonating grenades.
The attackers “stayed for less than an hour,” said Muhammad Kabo, a tea salesman, who said he saw “about nine vehicles” heading for the school. A little later, “I heard the girls scream in the truck and it was clear that they had removed some,” he added.
Safai Maimagani, another resident of Dapchi, explained that “a group of fighters, dressed in army uniforms and black, white and red turbans, asked a street vendor to drive them to school. ”
The jihadist group, whose name means “Western education is a sin”, has been carrying out a bloody insurgency in northeastern Nigeria since 2009. Its attacks, and repression by the army, left more than 20,000 dead and 2.6 million displaced. He has kidnapped thousands of people, including women and children.
It was the kidnapping of 276 high school girls in Chibok that gave the jihadist group tragic notoriety on the international scene.
Fifty-seven high school girls had managed to escape quickly and since May 2017, another 107 have escaped or been released under an agreement between the government and Boko Haram.