The Nigerian military rescued 76 schoolgirls and recovered the bodies of two others on Wednesday, after the students went missing during a Boko Haram attack on Dapchi village in the northeastern state of Yobe.
“Everybody is celebrating their coming with songs and praises to God almighty,” said Babagana Umar, one of the parents whose daughter had disappeared. “The only sad news is that two girls were dead and no explanation.”
The rescued girls were returned to Dapchi village late on Wednesday evening, Umar and other residents said.
A statement by the Yobe state government also confirmed that some girls were rescued.
“The Yobe State Government hereby informs the public that some of the girls at Government Girls Science Technical College (GGSTC) whose school was attacked by Boko Haram terrorists last Monday have been rescued by gallant officers and men of the Nigerian Army from the terrorists who abducted them. “The rescued girls are now in the custody of the Nigerian Army. “We will provide more details about their number and condition in due course.”
A roll-call at the girls’ school on Tuesday showed that 91 students were absent, sources told Reuters.
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has directed security agencies to ensure all the missing girls are found.
I share the anguish of all the parents and guardians of the girls that remain unaccounted for. I would like to assure them that we are doing all in our power to ensure the safe return of all the girls.
— Muhammadu Buhari (@MBuhari) February 21, 2018
The Boko Haram militants arrived Dapchi on Monday evening in trucks, some mounted with heavy guns and painted in military camouflage, witnesses said.
The Nigerian police and the regional education ministry denied any abductions had taken place, but parents and other witnesses said some girls were still missing.
The state police commissioner Sumonu Abdulmaliki on Tuesday told journalists Boko Haram had not abducted any girls in Dapchi.
“They fired shots and left the town toward Gaidam… in the night, where they abducted three people,” he said.
The state ministry of education also said there had been no established case of abduction, but shut the Dapchi school for a week to allow students to be reunited with their families.
Nigeria is still haunted by Boko Haram’s abduction of more than 270 schoolgirls from the town of Chibok in 2014. That case drew global attention to the nine-year insurgency.