MAIDUGURI, Nigeria — The fate of 115 female students abducted by Islamic extremists was thrown into uncertainty Thursday when their school principal denied the Nigerian military's report that almost all the pupils had been freed.
"Up till now we are still waiting and praying for the safe return of the students ... the security people, especially the vigilantes and the well-meaning volunteers of Gwoza are still out searching for them. The military people, too, are in the bush searching," the principal, Asabe Kwambura, told The Associated Press by telephone.
She said only 14 of the 129 girls and young women kidnapped by gunmen before dawn Tuesday have returned to Chibok town: four who jumped from the back of a truck and 10 who escaped into the bush when their abductors asked them to cook a meal.
The principal directly contradicted Maj. Gen. Chris Olukolade, the Defense Ministry spokesman, who said in a statement late Wednesday night that Kwambura herself had confirmed that all but eight of the students have been accounted for. "The others have been freed this evening," he said. He also said security forces had captured one of the abductors.
Olukolade could not immediately be reached for further comment.