200 Nigerian Girls Kidnapped From Boarding School

News & Views | Bené Viera | 04/29/2014 | 12:29 PM EDT

The Nigerian government has been criticized for its response to the horrific kidnapping of over 200 school girls

Heartbreaking news. Two weeks ago over 200 Nigerian schoolgirls were kidnapped from their boarding school dorms in the middle of the night in the northeastern town of Chibok.

The suspects in the kidnapping are reportedly members of the militant Islamist Boko Haram group. Chibok is a Christian and Muslim community in the predominantly Muslim northern Nigeria.

The government is vowing to rescue the girls, but has been criticized for its response to the kidnapping. The military is being blamed for failing to find the teens and “crush an increasingly deadly insurgency” according to NPR.

Author Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani says people across the world are terrified of what may be happening to the girls.

"It's a situation of present, continuous agony. Everybody is terrified at the thought of what they might be going through. There's just no reason why these girls could have been targeted. They're so innocent, so harmless," Nwaubani says. "They're probably Muslim and Christian. It's frightening. They're not being seen as Hausa, Yoruba or Igbo [three of Nigeria's major ethnic groups]. They're not being seen as northerners or easterners. They're just seen as children."

The Boko Haram group suspected as the kidnappers claimed responsibility for the deadly bombing on the outskirts of Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, earlier this month.

Boko Haram means “western education is forbidden.” In previous raids on schools the group has reportedly spared girls, ordering them to give up their studies, go home and get married. They’ve also vowed to force strict Islamic law on northern Nigeria with plans to oust the government.

Most terrifyingly, the group has reportedly been known to use hostages as sex slaves and cooks in their camps.

An anonymous student fearing for her safety told NPR her classmates at Government Girls' Secondary School were herded off in trucks taken by armed men in soldier uniform. Some girls jumped from the trucks and escaped, but over 200 girls are believed to be held in the Sambia Forest.

Families who’ve searched for the girls in the forest said they’ve not seen any Nigerian military searching. The military reported early on the girls had mostly been freed, but were forced to retract their statement. Many have condemned the military.

Presidential spokesman Reuben Abati defends the government and says they are determined to rescue the girls.

"The president has never hidden the fact, yes, that this is not just a Nigerian problem, it is also a problem that requires international cooperation," Abati says. "In terms of strategy, in terms of logistics, the presidency and the Nigerian government is, of course, working with the Americans, working with the British, and is also working particularly with neighboring countries."

Nigerians are said to be sick of the promises and want peace and security now.

(Photo: Afolabi Sotunde/Landov)

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