Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has called the suspected kidnapping of dozens of schoolgirls by Boko Haram militants a “national disaster”, and said he was sending more troops and reconnaissance aircraft to look for them.
The Nigerian president apologised for the attack on Friday, in his first extended comments about the incident.
” This is a national disaster. We are sorry that this could have happened and share your pain. We pray that our gallant armed forces will locate and safely return your missing family members,” Buhari said in a statement directed to the parents of the missing girls.
There is confusion over the number missing after Monday’s attack, with estimates ranging from around 50 to more than 100. A roll-call at the girls’ school in the village of Dapchi, Yobe state, on Tuesday showed 91 students were absent. Parents have told the BBC that at least 100 students have not been found.
The Yobe state government had to apologise after mistakenly issuing a statement on Wednesday that said some of the girls had been saved by the army.
The kidnapping may be one of the largest since Boko Haram abducted more than 270 schoolgirls from the northeastern town of Chibok in 2014. Many of those girls are still being held, though others have escaped or been freed for ransom.