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Around 100 Girls Are Missing In Nigeria After Boko Haram Attacks School

Feb 21, 2018
Originally published on February 21, 2018 7:01 pm
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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Next to northeast Nigeria where the military is reported to have rescued dozens of schoolgirls who went missing after an attack on their boarding school, an attack by suspected Boko Haram extremists on Monday night. Now, it's still not clear what has become of their remaining missing schoolmates, and that is sparking flashbacks to the mass abduction of Chibok schoolgirls in Nigeria four years ago. NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton is monitoring the developments. She joins us now. Hi, Ofeibea.

OFEIBEA QUIST-ARCTON, BYLINE: Greetings, Mary Louise.

KELLY: What more can you tell us about this apparent rescue of schoolgirls?

QUIST-ARCTON: We have had conflicting and very confusing reports, Mary Louise. First of all, the authorities said that there had been an attack on this boarding school but that there had been no abductions because the 800-plus - almost 900 schoolgirls plus their teachers had heard the attackers and had managed to run away into the bush. And then we heard that a hundred were missing. The families said so. And then the police said 50 were missing. Now we are hearing that dozens of the girls have been rescued and that two bodies have been recovered.

KELLY: Step back a minute, and talk to us about what this might say about the state of Boko Haram, a group that the government and the military in Nigeria had been saying were defeated. This suggests that they might still be very much active in northeast Nigeria.

QUIST-ARCTON: Yes. We still keep hearing from the authorities and the military that Boko Haram has been technically defeated. And yet we know there are still suicide bombings, especially in the northeast. And now with this incident, it has many Nigerians saying, does the government have a handle on this - clearly not if Boko Haram can strike at will. We were told that these suspected extremists had actually gone to loot food at the school rather than to take girls and teachers hostage. And now we're hearing another story. So Nigerians will be very confused, very angry and very worried.

KELLY: A lot of confusion, a lot of questions about a situation still very much in flux. Thanks very much, Ofeibea.

QUIST-ARCTON: Always a pleasure. Thank you, Mary Louise.

KELLY: That's NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton reporting from her base in Dakar, Senegal, about the situation with Boko Haram in Nigeria. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.