24 more schoolgirls kidnapped by Nigerian extremists have escaped; 85 still missing

Twenty-four more Nigerian schoolgirls abducted by Islamic extremists have escaped and 85 still are missing, an education official said Friday.

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria — Twenty-four more Nigerian schoolgirls abducted by Islamic extremists have escaped and 85 still are missing, an education official said Friday.

Some of the women jumped off the back of a truck when they were kidnapped before dawn Tuesday from a high school in the extreme northeast of Nigeria. Others have escaped into the Sambisa Forest, which borders their school in Chibok town and is a known hideout of militants of the Boko Haram terrorist network.

“So far, we give thanks to God, for what we now have is 44 girls” who have escaped, the Borno state education commissioner, Musa Inuwo Kubo told The Associated Press by telephone Friday night.

He said some of the latest escapees were found Wednesday nearly 50 kilometres (30 miles) away from their school.

Extremists have been attacking schools and slaughtering hundreds of students in the past year. In recent months they have begun kidnapping students, who they use as cooks, sex slaves and porters.

But this week’s mass abduction is unprecedented. The attackers also burned down many houses in the town.

The extremists have been on a rampage this week that started with a massive bombing attack on a busy bus station at rush hour on Monday in Abuja, the capital in the centre of the country, that killed at least 75 people. Twenty others were killed in attacks on two villages. And a soldier and police officer guarding the school in Chibok also were killed.

More than 1,500 people have been killed in the Islamic uprising this year, compared to an estimated 3,600 between 2010 and 2013. The attacks have undermined Nigerian government and military claims that they are containing the insurgency in the extreme northeast of the country.

Boko Haram, which means “Western education is sinful,” believes Western influences are corrupting and wants to install an Islamic state in Nigeria. Africa’s most populous nation of about 170 million is divided about equally between mainly Muslims in the north and Christians in the south.

Nigeria’s military has remained inexplicably absent from Chibok, Kubo said, describing residents’ “displeasure” that no security forces have come to secure the area since the attack.

Angry parents and all able-bodied men from the town have taken to the Sambisa Forest to try to find the students despite the dangers of confronting extremists.

The Defence Ministry spokesman, Maj. Gen. Chris Olukolade, claimed in a statement Wednesday that all but eight of the 129 abducted students had been freed by security forces. But he retracted that statement on Thursday.

Just Posted

Tory MPs gather in Red Deer to hear from voters

Eight MPs from across the province got input on a wide range of topics

Red Deer food bank to re-evaluate to stay up to date on new Canadian food guide

The Red Deer Food Bank Society, which feeds thousands of families every… Continue reading

Young Blackfalds mother copes with double tragedies with community support

Three fundraisers are being held to help Alana Newbold and her children

Red Deer careful about overuse of road salt

Focus on anti-icing to reduce salt use

Carjacking victim would stop to help again

Springbrook woman has some sympathy for carjacker

2-for-1: Total lunar eclipse comes with supermoon bonus

On Sunday night, the moon, Earth and sun lined up to create the eclipse, which was visible throughout North and South America

Liberals have options to help more millennials buy homes, experts say

OTTAWA — The federal Liberals have several options as they look for… Continue reading

Parks Canada puts brakes on Icefields Parkway bike trail in Alberta

Parks Canada says it won’t go ahead with a plan to build… Continue reading

Sylvan Lake resident to receive kidney from younger sister

Sylvan Lake resident Lexie Libby had been losing hope of ever finding… Continue reading

Closing arguments at trial of accused in slaying of Calgary Stampeders player

CALGARY — Final arguments are to be heard today at the trial… Continue reading

Edmonton Oilers fire general manager Peter Chiarelli: reports

EDMONTON — Peter Chiarelli has been fired as general manager of the… Continue reading

Canadian Milos Raonic has Australian Open run end in quarterfinals

MELBOURNE, Australia — Canadian Milos Raonic is done at the Australian Open… Continue reading

$20K pay gap between women, men in Canadian tech jobs

The report defines tech workers as people either producing or making extensive use of technology, regardless of industry

Two Quebec short-film directors mark first Oscar nominations together

TORONTO — Two Quebec filmmakers celebrated in solidarity on Tuesday after learning… Continue reading

Most Read