Thirty-five Nigerian police officers sent to a training academy in the country’s northeast have gone missing after an attack by Takfiri Boko Haram militants on the facility.
The militants launched an attack on the academy just outside the town of Gwoza in Borno State on Wednesday. They took control of Gwoza earlier in August, but the army has said it is preparing an operation to retake the town.
On Saturday, national police spokesman Emmanuel Ojukwu said in a statement that 35 policemen “who are still missing from the facility as a result of the latest attack are being searched for with very promising prospects of locating them.”
Ojukwu further said some of the missing police officers may have been killed with their bodies not yet discovered while others may have run to safety during the militant attack but have not yet reported their whereabouts.
It is possible that some have been kidnapped by the militants, he added.
Blamed for over 10,000 deaths since 2009, Boko Haram has repeatedly targeted the police and the army throughout its attacks.
The Takfiris are believed to be in control of large swathes of territory in Borno, as well as at least one town in neighboring Yobe State.
Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in the northeast in May 2013 and the military launched a huge operation to flush out the militants.
Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is forbidden,” says its goal is to overthrow the Nigerian government. The Takfiri group has been responsible for a number of deadly gun and bomb attacks in various parts of Nigeria since 2009.
On April 14, Boko Haram militants kidnapped 276 students from their secondary school in the northeastern town of Chibok. Reports say 57 of the girls managed to escape but 219 are still missing.