World Bulletin / News Desk
Scores of concerned Nigerian parents and civilian volunteers have joined hands to search for scores of schoolgirls abducted Monday by Boko Haram militants.
"I just cannot imagine how traumatized our daughters will be this moment. We are in pain," Isa Maina, a relative of one of the abducted girls, told Anadolu Agency.
"The waiting game is killing [us]. Our women are no longer at ease with us sitting back while our daughters are missing," he said.
"She's my late brother's daughter. How do I face him on the Day of Judgment? I am doing this so I can tell him, if the dead can ever meet, that I did all I could," he added.
Maina is among the relatives and volunteers who have taken the dreaded Sambisa Forest – a known Boko Haram hideout – to search for the missing girls.
Asked if they understood the dangers involved in their decision to enter the forest, Maina said: "We have discovered that these terrorists could be hidden in areas our troops don't know."
"And since this is where we were born, we know everywhere. We can be of help in this regard. We are sure the troops will shield us," he said.
At around 10pm Monday night, militants 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.
Sumaila Ularamu, a member of a civilian joint task force, confirmed that the parents were searching for their abducted girls.
"It is true some parents are joining us. Some of them even contributed money despite [the fact] that the government is assisting us... So we are scurrying all the forests around. Later we will go to Sambisa," he told AA.
He said the military search team needed people who knew every corner of the forest.
"Some hunters are also joining us," he said.
Boko Haram has not commented on Monday's mass abduction, but many fear the kidnapped teenagers could wind up as sex slaves.
Meanwhile, the military has denied allegations that it deliberately misled the public regarding the girls' fate.
"The controversy that has been generated around the efforts at securing the lives of the abducted students of Government Girls' Secondary School is unfortunate," army spokesman Chris Olukolade said in a statement late Thursday.
"The ongoing frantic efforts of security forces – along with vigilante groups, including hunters working to locate and free the abducted students – have continued to be keenly monitored at the Operation Center of the Defense and Army Headquarters as regular progress reports are being received from troops on the ground," Olukolade added.
Late Wednesday, the Nigerian army announced that 121 of the abducted girls had been rescued.
But the principal of the girl's school denied the claim, saying that only 14 had been freed.
"This is an unfortunate development indeed," the army spokesman said. "Yet the Defense Headquarters would not want to join issues with anyone."
"It has to be reaffirmed, however, that the report forwarded to the public on this issue was in good faith and not intended to deceive the public, as is being interpreted following the denials by the school principal and government of Borno State," he went on.
The spokesman stressed that the Nigerian military was "deeply concerned" about the abducted students' safety.
"There is indeed no reason to play politics with the precious lives of the students. The number of those still missing is not the issue now, as the life of every Nigerian is very precious," he said.
"In light of the denial by the principal of the school, the Defense Headquarters wishes to defer to the school principal and governor's statement on the number of students still missing and retract that aspect of the earlier statement while the search continues," Olukolade added.Last Mod: 18 Nisan 2014, 17:37