Why is it so difficult to establish how many girls are missing?

Four female students of the government secondary school Chibok, who were abducted by gunmen and reunited with their families, walk in Chibok, Nigeria (21 April 2014)

Fifty-eight children have escaped, some of them by jumping off trucks in which they were being transported after some 200 gunmen captured them at the school. “We ran into the bush and waited until daybreak before we went back home,” one girl told the BBC.

Associated Press news agency reported that an intermediary is in contact with the abductors. It reported that two children had died of snakebites and 11 were ill. But just how many are still in captivity is unclear. Children from neighbouring areas had been at the school to write their exams when Boko Haram carried out its offensive. School records were burnt during the attack, making it difficult to establish, officials say, how many were taken away. Officials also say more children may have escaped, with their families failing to report their return to the authorities.

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