By Yusuf Alli, Managing Editor, Northern Operation
There are indications that the bandits who attacked the Government Girls Secondary School, Jangebe, Zamfara State on Friday and abducted 307 girls had women in their ranks.
Security agencies are currently investigating the allegation based on information supplied by some of the girls who escaped from the gunmen.
The Zamfara State Government is said to have opened talks with the bandits with a view to securing the release of the abductees.
Several parents of the abductees now have a camp within the school compound, anxiously awaiting information on their children.
The Nation gathered on Saturday that the escapees said they sighted some women among the bandits. A security source said yesterday that the dimension of women bandits was a “strange development being investigated.”
The source said security agencies were also working on intelligence of likely “political banditry in Zamfara State.
Investigation revealed that the military, the police and other security agencies were on the alert yesterday to rescue the girls but the political authority was not disposed to the use of force.
It was gathered that the Zamfara State Government had opened talks with bandits, although the details were sketchy.
A reliable security source said: “Troops, police and other security agents have located the forest where the girls were kept. Although they are within the vicinity of the forest, they cannot storm the enclave because Governor Bello Matawalle is after their safe return.
“So far, we have credible information that the state government has opened talks and negotiation with the bandits.
“The political authority in the state is opposed to military action. We are waiting the outcome of the negotiation. Even in government circle, everyone has kept mute in order not to jeopardise talks with the bandits.
“By Sunday, a clearer picture will emerge on the fate of the 317 girls.”
According to sources, some of the girls claimed that the women bandits wore black dresses with veils.
One of the sources said: “We are probing clues that some women bandits took part in the abduction of the 317 girls in Jangebe. This is a strange development. Some of the pupils who escaped are being debriefed or profiled to know whether it is true or not.
“This allegation is vital to us because it will help to determine the dimension which banditry is assuming. In the past, we have had cases of female suicide bombers.
“Another angle to it borders on speculations about the participation of some locals in banditry in some parts of the North-West, especially Zamfara State.
“More importantly is the political dimension to the situation in Zamfara State with some alleging that the state is under political banditry.”
Parents of abducted students set up camp in school
Some parents of the abducted students have moved to the school compound, anxiously awaiting information on their children.
Channels Television reported that the parents have set up a camp within the school premises in anticipation of the release of their abducted children.
It quoted one of the parents, Shitu Habibu Jangebe, as saying they had been in the school since yesterday morning and would not leave until they hear the good news.
“Although we have seen a number of trucks going into the bush, we don’t know what for, because no one is telling us anything. But we have hope the trucks may be used to bring back our children,” the parent said.
Police intensify aerial surveillance to rescue school girls – PPRO
The Police Command in Zamfara State said yesterday it was intensifying aerial surveillance for the rescue of the abducted students.
In an update in Gusau, the command’s Public Relations Officer, Muhammad Shehu, said the police had “already commenced a search-and-rescue operation headed by the Commissioner of Police, Mr Abutu Yaro, aimed at ensuring successful rescue of the abducted schoolgirls.”
He added: “Currently, CP Abutu Yaro is on recky (reconnaissance) operation in the forest where the kidnapped victims are believed to have been taken to.”
He said that two helicopters were waiting for signals from the CP, who was already in the forest, so that they could take off and continue to conduct aerial surveillance to the search and rescue operation.
“This effort is ongoing and is being intensified.
“I want to assure members of the public that the police are doing a wonderful job towards ensuring the release of the abducted schoolgirls hale and hearty.
“We are appealing to members of the public to support the police with credible information and prayers so that our mission to rescue the victims can be achieved,” he said.