Nigeria has deployed fighter jets, helicopters and surveillance planes to search for more than 100 girls who are missing after suspected Boko Haram militants attacked their school in the northeastern region of the country.
The country’s Ministry for Information said Sunday that 110 girls remain unaccounted for after the raid last Monday on the Government Girls Science Technical College in Dapchi, Yobe State.
The Nigerian government has yet to release an official list of those missing and federal agencies have given contradictory information. The ministry is basing the latest number on briefings with the school principal and the Commissioner for Education.
Authorities will be conducting searches both during the day and at night, Olatokunbo Adesanya, director of public relations and information of the Nigerian Air Force said in a statement Sunday.
Bashir Manzo, the father of one of the missing girls and the newly elected head of the parents’ association, earlier told CNN at least 104 schoolgirls were unaccounted for.
Shortly after the attack, the Yobe State governor’s office said 50 girls were unaccounted for.
The Ministry for Information said Sunday that 906 students were in the school on the day of the attack.
“According to our records, 104 girls are missing, including my 16-year-old daughter, Fatima,” Manzo said. “Those are the numbers we gather from fathers who have not seen their children from the school. They told us they saw some girls but the governor has told us yesterday they haven’t found them,” Manzo said.
The group’s secretary, Kachalla Bukar, told CNN that his 14-year-old daughter was also missing.
“My daughter Aisha Kachalla is missing and we can’t get any information from school because soldiers are all over there. No security came to Dapchi the day the men came, now over a hundred soldiers have taken over the village,” Bukar said.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has promised the families of the missing girls that they’ll be found and their attackers brought to justice.
Buhari called the situation a “national disaster” and said more troops and surveillance aircraft had been deployed to search the entire territory for the unknown number of missing students.
“We are sorry that it happened; we share your pain. Let me assure that our gallant armed forces will locate and safely return all the missing girls,” Buhari said in a Twitter statement.
The local Yobe government released a statement Wednesday announcing the girls had been found, but later apologized for the “erroneous” statement that it said was based on inaccurate information.
Earlier, the governor’s aide released a statement saying 50 students were still unaccounted for after armed militants approached the school under the cover of darkness Monday night. The statement also said it was unclear whether the students were abducted by the militants.
“The Yobe state government has no credible information yet as to whether any of the schoolgirls was taken hostage by the terrorists,” said Abdullahi Bego, an aide to Gov. Ibrahim Gaidam, in a statement.
Witnesses told CNN that terrified residents of the town fled on Monday when they saw trucks and motorcycles carrying armed men shooting at people randomly.
Boko Haram militants kidnapped nearly 300 girls from a school in Chibok in April 2014, setting off global outrage. Many of the Chibok girls were freed after negotiations, but more than 100 remain in captivity, their whereabouts unknown.