Women wearing red gather for a prayer vigil for the release
of abducted secondary school girls in the remote village of
Chibok, in Lagos. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye
Four more girls kidnapped by Boko Haram militants last
month have escaped their captors, the education commissioner
for Nigeria's Borno state says, leaving 219 still missing.
The girls were taking exams at a secondary school in the
remote northeastern village of Chibok on April 14 when the
Islamist gunmen surrounded it, loaded 276 of them onto trucks
and carted them off, according to official figures.
Fifty-three escaped shortly afterwards, say authorities in
Borno state, which lies at the epicentre of the insurgency.
Education commissioner Musa Inuwa told Reuters by telephone
the four had been reunited with their parents, but he
declined to give further details of their escape.
The girls' abduction shone an international spotlight on the
militants, whose violent struggle for an Islamic state in
northern Nigeria has killed thousands and turned them into
the biggest threat to security in Africa's top oil-producing
From being a religious movement opposed to Western culture -
Boko Haram means "Western education is a sin" in the northern
Hausa language - the sect has emerged as a well-armed
insurrection with a growing thirst for blood.
Chief of Defence Staff Air Marshal Alex Badeh said on Tuesday
the military knew where the abducted girls were but ruled out
a rescue by force for fear of endangering them.
Most officials think any raid to rescue them would run a high
risk that the girls would be killed by their captors. Boko
Haram has repeatedly showed ruthlessness in targeting
The military has been bruised by criticism at home and abroad
of its failure to protect the girls and its slow response to
the hostage crisis. Badeh was quoted in the state news agency
as saying the military was doing all it could to secure the
"No matter the criticisms, the Nigerian Armed Forces will
continue to do what it had sworn to do," he said. "You are
aware that we have international partners working with us to
release our girls and our girls will be released."
Thirty-one security personnel were killed in an attack by
heavily armed Boko Haram militants in the town of Buni Yadi