Girls in blue hijab

A girl kidnapped from a secondary school in Nigeria’s Zamfara state says that despite her terrible ordeal, she can’t wait to go back to school – but not until the security situation improves.

Speaking to the BBC Hausa, the young girl, whom we have not identified for her own safety, described her terror. The gunmen at night grabbed 279 of them and made them walk through the forest, but said that the experience would not stop his education.

“I really want to go back to school because I want a bright future – but we need the government to deploy permanent security forces to our school before I can have the courage to return,” she said. .

She described how the loud bang and gunfire that woke them up around 1:00 am last Friday, as gunmen broke into her hostel, left most of the students in shock.

“We thought it was our teachers who had come to wake us up for the morning prayers.

“Then there was gunfire when the men entered our hostel – at that point we all screamed,” she said.

The men then threatened to shoot anyone who continued to scream, further terrifying the girls.

The girls were then taken to the assembly grounds and asked to point out other hostels by their captors.

“Some of them stayed with us while the others went to the remaining hostels and grabbed the other students. Then they ordered us out of the school, shooting in the air and made us walk. in the forest behind the school, ”she said.

Map: Nigeria

Map: Nigeria

Most of the girls had no shoes on as they walked for miles among the thorns through the forest, some only had a nightgown, while one managed to tear her bedding from her. ‘hostel. This would later save a colleague from the cold.

The 279 girls who were abducted by the gunmen who attacked the government secondary school for girls in Jangebe have now been released.

The girls who have now returned home were exposed to further trauma on Wednesday when The armed forces reportedly opened fire on the reunion with their parents.

At least three people were reportedly shot dead during the official handover ceremony, but it is not known whether there were any deaths.

‘They hid us in caves’

After walking for miles mainly in the dark in the forest, the girls were forced to sleep in caves by their captors.

“We traveled for at least 12 hours … by the time we got to their camp we were extremely tired.

“They divided us into two groups. There were two large trees with large caves near a stream, and they asked each group to enter the caves.

“The cave was too small for each group, but that’s how we got it,” she said.

Girls in blue hijab at Zamfara state government house

The students were greeted at the seat of government in Zamfara state after their release by the gunmen

She said that not all of the girls were able to follow the trek.

“They didn’t come with vehicles, but when we reached a big mountain and they realized most of us were tired and couldn’t continue the journey, they called motorcycles.

“Those who were overweight or weak were allowed to get on the motorcycles, but not before being whipped by the men,” she said.

At the camp, the girls were forced to cook their own food, with their captors escorting them to a river to fill the water cans.

The food was rice, beans and corn flour from Guinea which they ate together, the same thing, twice a day.

The girl said their captors spoke only Fulfulde, a language spoken by the Fulani in northern Nigeria.

She did not understand the language but some of her peers who were Fulani interpreted for the rest of them.

‘We cried out with happiness’

On one occasion, they heard the men say that students would not be spared if the government did not pay a ransom.

The governor of Zamfara state said no ransom was paid to free the girls, but negotiated with other repentant bandits.

Pillows and mattresses littered

In the midst of the chaos of the night they were kidnapped, a girl took her bedding and took it away

The way the negotiations are of little importance to the girls, who were surprised on the day of their release.

“They didn’t tell us we were going home that day – it was after sunset after our dinner that they asked us to move out.

“We thought they were changing locations and after walking for a long time some of us started to complain,” she said.

The men then yelled at them, who revealed they were returning home.

“We started screaming with happiness but they stopped us. After a long trip, they stopped at one point and told us to continue until we met the security officials, ”she said.

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