Nigeria has confirmed that 110 Nigerian schoolgirls remain unaccounted for after fighters believed to belong to the Boko Haram armed group attacked a school last week, the country’s state-run news agency reported.
Nigeria‘s Minister of Information and Culture Alhaji Lai Mohammed announced on Sunday that 110 female students remain missing, the Nigerian News Agency (NAN) said.
The schoolgirls were abducted after armed fighters stormed the Government Science and Technical College in Dapchi, in the northeastern state of Yobe, on February 19.
In total, 906 students were at school when the attack took place, Mohammed said.
“The security forces are leaving no stone unturned in their search for the girls,” the minister said, after a meeting between state and federal officials in Damaturu, another city in Yobe state.
Police and civil defence officials are being deployed to all the schools in Yobe, Mohammed added.
“We are back here in Yobe as part of efforts to provide some succour to the parents of the girls, to let them know that they are not alone and also to reassure them that we will not rest until we have found the girls.”
Nigeria’s air force will deploy reconnaissance planes and soldiers to help in the search, President Muhammadu Buhari said.
The Yobe state government had issued a statement on Thursday saying some girls were rescued, but retracted it within 24 hours, saying the information was “not credible”.
The incident has raised fears among parents of children at the school in Dapchi, who said it reminded them of a mass abduction carried out by Boko Haram fighters in April 2014.
At the time, the armed group abducted 276 Nigerian schoolgirls from the town of Chibok. More than one-third of those girls remain unaccounted for.
Zainab, a 14-year-old schoolgirl, was one of the students to be abducted in Dapchi.
Last week, her father, Sule Ali, told Al Jazeera that Zainab’s mother was sent to the hospital after hearing the news that her daughter was still missing.
“She fainted on hearing that her daughter wasn’t found. The grief is too much for her,” he said.
More than 20,000 people have been killed and two million others forced to flee their homes in northeastern Nigeria since Boko Haram launched a campaign in 2009, aimed at forming a breakaway state.
Over the years, the armed group has kidnapped thousands of adults and children.