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Nigeria: ‘Maximum effort’ to rescue abducted girls
April 16, 2014, 9:24 pm

The Nigerian army has stepped up its campaign against the Boko Haram militia [AP]

The Nigerian army has stepped up its campaign against the Boko Haram militia [AP]

** Updated with reports of 100 girls freed

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has urged the military, security and police forces to exert “maximum efforts” to rescue the eight teenage girls who remained unaccounted for after some 100 others who were kidnapped earlier in the week are reported to have been freed.

CNN quoted the Nigerian military who said early on Thursday that some 100 girls who  were abducted from their school in the northern state of Borno earlier this week had been freed.

Major General Chris Olukolade said that an alleged abductor had been captured, and a military search-and-rescue operation was ongoing to “ensure the safety of the remaining students.”

Although there was no immediate claim of responsibility, Nigerian authorities suspected the Boko Haram Islamist militia for the kidnapping from the school in the town of Chibok in the northern state.

Earlier: Borno’s Governor Kashim Shettima told journalists that 14 of the hostages had escaped so far and announced a cash reward for information leading to the rescue of the girls.

Police sources in Borno said that the girls were likely taken to Boko Haram’s main camps in Sambisa forest to the north of the state.

Police sources said their forces were nearing the camps where Boko Haram are known to have fortified their positions.

Borno is one of three states – Yobe and Adamawa are the others – in the northeast where Boko Haram have been increasingly active in recent months.

Boko Haram debuted on the Nigerian stage in 2002 and has been calling for an end to secular-based law, to be replaced with Islamic Sharia law. It has been fighting government forces and raiding villages ever since, particularly in the country’s northeast.

The uptick in Boko Haram attacks in the northeastern states  appears to come in response to a Nigerian military operation, which began last summer, to uproot the hard-line Islamist group, and a declaration of a state of emergency by President Goodluck Jonathan.

Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday condemned the abduction and called on their captors to release them.

“The secretary-general condemns the shocking mass abduction of schoolgirls in Chibok, Borno state, north-eastern Nigeria on 14 April,” said a statement issued in New York by Ban’s spokesperson.

The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) also condemned the attack.

“UNICEF condemns in the strongest possible terms the reported abduction of some 100 school girls between 12 and 17 years old from their school hostel in Chibok, Borno State on Monday night,” Manuel Fontaine, UNICEF regional director for the West and central Africa, said in a statement.

Source: Agencies