Approximately 80 schoolgirls have been rescued by the Nigerian Army after being kidnapped by suspected Boko Haram attackers who raided their school in northeast Nigeria on Monday, a state official said.
The exact number of girls will be confirmed on Thursday when the school will be visited to check names off a list of students, said Mohammed Alamin, the commissioner of Education for Yobe state.
The girls were rescued at a border town between Borno and Yobe after the military received a tip, Alamin said.
After the rescue on Wednesday, the girls were taken to the Geidam Army Base in Yobe and were undergoing medical checks.
Alamin could not confirm if there were any bodies recovered during the rescue as reported by other media.
The Yobe state government also confirmed girls from the school were rescued, but did not provide an exact number.
The government said more details about the number of girls and their condition will be provided in “due course.”
Earlier, the governor’s aide released a statement saying 50 students were still unaccounted for after the suspected Boko Haram attack at the Government Girls Science Technical College on Monday night in Dapchi, Yobe.
The statement also said it was unclear whether the students were abducted by the militants.
“The Yobe state government has no credible information yet as to whether any of the schoolgirls was taken hostage by the terrorists,” said Abdullahi Bego, an aide to Gov. Ibrahim Gaidam, in a statement.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari also posted a statement on Twitter saying he had “directed the military and police to mobilize immediately to ensure that all the missing girls of Government Girls Secondary School, Dapchi, are found.”
Buhari later tweeted, “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.”
Yobe State Police Commissioner Abdulmaliki Sumonu initially told CNN on Tuesday that none of the schoolgirls was abducted but later said the authorities needed more time to be certain of the number of missing students.
Alamin described how some of the terrified students jumped over walls to flee the militants, who turned up at their school with trucks, in an eerie echo of the Chibok girls abduction nearly four years ago.
“The students told us that many of the girls ran into the bushes and into nearby villages. Some went as far as 30 kilometers away from the school. We don’t know whether they are still hiding in the bushes or if they have run home,” Alamin said.
Witnesses also told CNN that terrified residents of the town fled on Monday when they saw trucks and motorcycles carrying armed men shooting at people randomly.
Boko Haram kidnapped nearly 300 girls from a school in Chibok in April 2014, setting off global outrage. Many of the Chibok girls were freed after negotiations, but more than 100 remain in captivity, their whereabouts unknown.