Nigeria abductions: Chibok raid warnings 'ignored'

The abductions have sparked worldwide protests

Nigeria's military had advance warning of an attack on the town where some 270 girls were kidnapped but failed to act, Amnesty International says.

The human rights group says it was told by credible sources that the military had more than four hours' warning of the raid by Boko Haram militants.

Fifty-three of the girls escaped soon after being seized in Chibok on 14 April but more than 200 remain captive.

Nigeria's authorities say they "doubt the veracity" of the Amnesty report.

"If the government was aware [beforehand] there would have been an intervention [against the militants]," Nigerian Information Minister Labaran Maku told BBC World TV.

Boko Haram at a glance

27338454A screengrab taken from a video released on You Tube in April 2012, apparently showing Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau (centre) sitting flanked by militants
  • Founded in 2002
  • Initially focused on opposing Western education - Boko Haram means "Western education is forbidden" in the local Hausa language
  • Launched military operations in 2009 to create Islamic state
  • Thousands killed, mostly in north-eastern Nigeria - also attacked police and UN headquarters in capital, Abuja
  • Some three million people affected
  • Declared terrorist group by US in 2013

However, he said the authorities would still investigate the claims.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan said on Friday that he believed the schoolgirls were still in his country and had not been moved to neighbouring Cameroon.

"There are stories that they have moved them outside of the country. But if they move that number of girls to Cameroon, people will see, so I believe they are still in Nigeria," Mr Jonathan told journalists at a meeting of the World Economic Forum in Abuja.

'Gross dereliction of duty'

Nigeria's information minister says they will investigate the Amnesty International report

Amnesty says it was told by several people that the military in Maiduguri, capital of the north-eastern Borno state, was informed of the impending attack on Chibok town soon after 19:00 local time.

It says that a local official was contacted by herdsmen who said that armed men had asked them where the Government Girls' Secondary School was located in the town.

Despite the warning, reinforcements were not sent to help protect the town in the remote area, which was attacked at around midnight, Amnesty says.

One reason, the rights group says, was a "reported fear of engaging with the often better-equipped armed groups".

Amesty's Africa Director Netsanet Belay said it amounted to a "gross dereliction of Nigeria's duty to protect civilians".

Amnesty's Makmid Camara: "The information the military received was of an impending attack on Chibok town"

A father of one of two of the missing schoolgirls told the BBC's John Simpson that he believed there was "politics" behind the kidnappings because there was prior information that the militants would be coming to Chibok.

Boko Haram has admitted capturing the girls, saying they should not have been in school and should get married instead.

In a video released earlier this week, leader Abubakar Shekau threatened to "sell" the students.

Rally for abducted schoolgirls in Johannesburg, South Africa. 8 May 2014 The abductions have sparked worldwide protests, like here in South Africa

Teams of experts from the US and UK - including military advisers, negotiators and counsellors - have arrived in Nigeria to help locate and rescue the abductees.

Seven American military officials arrived on Friday, with more expected to come on Saturday, including three FBI personnel.

Boko Haram in 60 seconds

Boko Haram, whose name means "Western education is forbidden" in the Hausa language, began its insurgency in Borno state in 2009.

At least 1,200 people are estimated to have died in the violence this year alone.

The Nigerian leadership has been widely criticised for its perceived slow response to the girls' kidnapping.

More protests were held in the British capital, London, and Nigeria's main city, Lagos, on Friday.

Speaking to the BBC's World Have Your Say programme, Mr Maku said it was important to remember that the army was not fighting an "easy war" against Boko Haram, which operates over a huge area in the remote north.

Map

More on This Story

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More Africa stories

RSS

Features & Analysis

Elsewhere on the BBC

Programmes

  • A computer generated of image of a robotic probe issued by Lunar MissionClick Watch

    Scientists seek crowdfunding to send probe to the Moon, plus other technology news

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.