World Bulletin / News Desk
Nigeria's Borno State government on Friday said that 14 more of the 129 schoolgirls abducted on Monday by the Boko Haram group had escaped their captors, although 85 more still remain missing.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency by phone Friday night, Borno State Education Commissioner Musa Kubo confirmed the 14 girls' release.
"Yes, it is true that 14 more have escaped on their own," Kubo said.
Speaking to newsmen in state capital Maiduguri, Kubo said the girls who escaped had been wandering in the bush when they were discovered by locals who returned them to Chibok, the town from which gunmen – believed to be Boko Haram fighters – had taken them earlier this week.
Twelve of the escapees were found in the forest near Chibok, while soldiers found two others in the bush near the town of Damboa, Kubo told reporters.
This brings to 44 the total number of abducted students recovered so far. The Borno government said Thursday that 30 had returned safely.
"I am glad to say that 14 more students have escaped their abductors," Kubo told newsmen.
"Of this number, three are currently with me at the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok… while my governor, Kashim Shettima, confirmed to me today that 11 girls have escaped to a town along the Damboa-Biu road in Borno State," he said.
"The 11 ladies were immediately moved from the location to other parts of the state to reconnect with their families," he added. "The remaining 33 in Chibok have also been moved out of the school to different parts of the state to join their families."
However, he noted, 85 kidnapped students still remain unaccounted for.
"Meanwhile, with this development, we have 44 out of our 129 students at the hostel on the day of the attack on the school," he said. "This means we have 85 students yet to join us."
"As of Thursday, we had 30 students returned," Kubo went on. "Of that number, 14 [had] escaped from their abductors, while 16 were returned by their parents and guardians after they ran home on the day of the attack."
He clarified that the 16 students returned by their parents had not been abducted.
"We had made announcements and called on parents whose children and wards ran home to return them to the school, so we could take proper account of our 129 students to know the number of those missing," Kubo said.
"We are hopefully expecting the return of our 85 students as intensive search and rescue efforts continue," he stressed. "I must acknowledge the combined efforts of the security agencies and civilian volunteers for the intensive search which may have piled up pressure on the abductors and possibly contributed to the escape of 28 students."
"We are grateful for the patriotic efforts being displayed by all those involved in the search and rescue operations," Kubo asserted. "We are also grateful to all Nigerians, institutions and governments within and outside our country for their unflinching support."
At around 10pm Monday night, rebels believed to belong to Boko Haram stormed the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, located on the fringes of the Sambisa Forest.
They hauled off scores of schoolgirls in their trucks, driving away unhindered.
Boko Haram has not commented on Monday's mass abduction, but many fear the kidnapped teenagers could wind up as sex slaves.Last Mod: 19 Nisan 2014, 10:17