Nigeria’s army yesterday posted two divisions to hunt for 200 schoolgirls abducted last month by Islamist rebels.
The soldiers are stationed in the border region close to Chad, Cameroon and Niger to work with other security agencies, said General Chris Olukolade, spokesman for the Defence Headquarters.
The government of President Goodluck Jonathan has faced criticism for its slow response since Boko Haram militants stormed a secondary school in the village of Chibok, near the Cameroon border, on April 14, and kidnapped the girls, who were taking examinations.
Fifty have escaped but more than 200 remain with the insurgents.
“The facilities of the Nigerian Army signals as well as all the communication facilities of the Nigerian Police and all the services have been devoted into coordinating this search,” Olukolade said in a statement.
“The major challenge remains the fact that some of the information given here turned out in many occasions to be misleading …. Nevertheless, this will not discourage the collaborative efforts that are on-going.” The air force has flown more than 250 sorties, a signals unit and the police are involved. A multinational taskforce has also been activated and surveillance equipment is deployed in support of 10 search teams, he said.
President Jonathan on Friday said he believed the schoolgirls remained in Nigeria and had not been transported into Cameroon.
It was the first indication he has given of their whereabouts.
The attackers were based in the Sambisa area of Borno state, a Boko Haram stronghold near the school from where the girls were abducted, he said.
Boko Haram’s fight for an Islamic state has killed thousands since it erupted in mid-2009 and has destabilised swathes of the northeast of Nigeria, Africa’s top oil producer, as well as neighbours Cameroon and Niger. —Reuters
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