Updated Friday April 18
The Nigerian military claimed Wednesday that nearly all of the 129 Nigerian schoolgirls abducted earlier this week by the Islamist group Boko Haram “have been freed” but eight remain missing. In a statement Thursday, Maj. Gen. Chris Olukolade retracted that report, drawing criticism from distraught families who accused the government of spreading lies. According to the BBC, the military has confirmed that 44 of the girls have escaped captivity and 85 are still missing.
The military is conducting a search-and-rescue operation for the remaining girls and one of the alleged kidnappers has been apprehended. Neither the girls’ condition nor the reason for their alleged release were immediately clear, CNN reports. The girls were abducted Monday night from their dormitories at their school in northeastern Nigeria, where the militant Islamist group has been waging a campaign of violence and terror for years. After a gun battle with authorities, militants loaded the girls onto busses and drove them away in a caravan.
This story was updated to reflect the Nigerian military’s retraction of its initial report.