Ten days ago, Fatima was with her best friend in Dapchi, but now she doesn’t know where she is[/caption]
The kidnapping of 110 girls from a school in the north-eastern Nigerian town of Dapchi bears striking similarities to the 2014 abduction of 276 schoolgirls from Chibok – right down to the contradictory information from the authorities.
The BBC’s Stephanie Hegarty went to the town to visit the school and meet families of those missing children.The grounds of the boarding school in Dapchi town are eerily quiet. Instead of the high-pitched chatter of 900 schoolgirls, there’s only the bleating of goats as they wander through empty classrooms. Thirteen-year-old Fatima Awaal is walking down the dusty path. She walks past a littering of rubber sandals, lost by girls as they ran away on Monday 19 February. When the militants from the Boko Haram Islamist group attacked, she was in her boarding house with her best friend Zara. They were just about to have dinner when they heard the gunshots. “One of our teachers told us to come out,” she said “And that’s when we saw the gunfire shooting through the sky.” The militants were coming from the far end of the compound, firing in the air. “We started running, many of the girls were screaming,” Fatima said. “We were running towards the gate. As we were running the militants were shouting at us to stop. They told us to get in the trucks, that they were there to help us. But we just ran.” The attackers were in military fatigues, but they were wearing sandals and they had beards and turbans on their heads. She knew they were Boko Haram, but some girls were confused and went with them. As Fatima was running she lost her best friend. Zara Tijjani is a little older at 14, but they grew up around the corner from each other and spent all their time together at school and in the holidays.