Nigeria confirms 110 Schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram in recent Dapchi Attack
This past week, the Nigerian government announced that 110 schoolgirls are confirmed missing following an attack by Boko Haram at a school in the northeastern Nigerian town of Dapchi. The kidnapping is claimed to be the largest since Boko Haram’s kidnapping of 276 girls from a school in the town of Chibok almost four years ago.
It was initially unclear how many girls were kidnapped. Some reports claimed that the number had reached 50, while the government’s reports confused some when it declared that some of the girls had been rescued when this, in fact, was not the case. On Sunday, however, the total of 110 was confirmed in a statement released by the Information Ministry.
In an interview with the BBC’s Stephanie Hegarty, 13-year-old Fatima Awaal, an escapee of the attack, shared her experience: "We started running, many of the girls were screaming. We were running towards the gate. As we were running the militants were shouting at us to stop. They told us to get in the trucks, that they were there to help us. But we just ran."
The Nigerian government has recently released the names of the victims, all of which are ages 11 to 19. As of Monday, the Nigerian Air Force has spent upwards of 200 hours searching for the kidnapped girls.
Boko Haram is a militant Islamic group operating out of Nigeria whose roots trace back to the 1990s. The group also refers to itself as Jama'atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda'awati Wal-Jihad, meaning "People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet's Teachings and Jihad." The group was originally known as “the Nigerian Taliban” due to the similarity of their beliefs to that of the Taliban. In 2013, the United States officially designated Boko Haram as a “foreign terrorist organization.”
More than ten thousand people have been killed in violence affiliated with Boko Haram, and nearly 1.5 million have been displaced. Boko Haram’s campaign includes a 2011 suicide attack on a United Nations building in Abuja and the Chibok kidnapping of 2014, in addition to multiple attacks that have burned villages and killed dozens of students, sometimes in connection with other regional terror groups.
Over the last seven years, the Nigerian government has been unsuccessful at quelling this organization, receiving much criticism over several catastrophic military decisions during this fight. In May 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari was elected on the grounds that his administration would strengthen the fight against Boko Haram, but this promise does not yet seem to have been fulfilled.
This kidnapping is just one of many similar attacks performed by Islamist terrorist organizations around the world. In order to truly make a difference, international, national, and civil society organizations and leaders must enhance collaboration and solidarity. Furthermore, the government of Nigeria should create a solid action plan that lays out its goals in the process of eradicating this menacing force.