Suspected Islamist rebels abduct over 100 Nigerian schoolgirls: teacher

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria Tue Apr 15, 2014 11:50am EDT

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MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (Reuters) - Suspected Islamist insurgents have abducted more than 100 female students in a night raid on a government secondary school in Nigeria's northeast Borno state, a teacher said on Tuesday.

He said gunmen, believed to be members of the Boko Haram Islamist group which has attacked schools in the northeast before as part of their anti-government rebellion, carried off the students from the school in Chibok late on Monday.

"Over 100 female students in our government secondary school at Chibok have been abducted," said Audu Musa, who teaches in another public school in the area, around 140 km (90 miles) south of the Borno state capital Maiduguri.

Musa said he saw eight bodies in the area on Tuesday morning, but did not give the identity of the victims. "Things are very bad here and everybody is sad," he said.

The military did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Education Commissioner for Borno State Inuwa Kubo confirmed the incident at Chibok, but told Reuters by phone authorities were still trying to ascertain the exact number of girls abducted, as several students fled into the bush in the darkness during the attack.

Borno state's education authorities had last month ordered all of its schools closed to protect children after Islamists killed dozens of pupils in a February attack against a boarding school in neighboring Yobe state.

But a Borno education official, who asked not to be named, said the female students had been back at the Chibok school writing exams.

Boko Haram, which in the Hausa language means broadly "Western education is sinful", says it wants to carve out a separate Islamic state in Nigeria and has targeted schools, as well as Christian churches and police and government offices, in its violent insurrection against the Nigerian state.

The raid on the school followed a bomb blast on Monday at a crowded bus station on the outskirts of the Nigerian capital Abuja, which killed more than 70 people. President Goodluck Jonathan said he suspected Boko Haram was behind the bombing.

(Additional reporting by Chijioke Ohuocha in Lagos; Writing by Pascal Fletcher; Editing by Joe Brock)

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