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(CNN) – A CNN team made the dangerous journey to Chibok to gather firsthand accounts of the abductions of 276 girls kidnapped by Boko Haram fighters nearly a month ago.
Before the gun-wielding Islamist militants rode into town, residents said they got cell phone calls that the feared extremist group was on the way. Family and friends from surrounding villages told them of a convoy of cargo trucks, pickups and motorcycles.
Residents said they passed along warnings to local authorities that night. Police called for reinforcements, but none came. Everyone, including police, fled into the bush. But the girls remained asleep in their dorms.
CNN's Nima Elbagir toured the school, gutted by militants as they fled, and spoke with one of the girls who managed to escape Boko Haram fighters that night.
The girl told Elbagir how she made a dash for freedom after militants loaded them into trucks and drove them into the nearby Sambisa Forest.
"We ran into the bush," she said of her escape with two others. "We ran and we ran." Lost and terrified, she said, they later ran toward flames they presumed were rising from a building set ablaze by the militants in their hometown.
The escapees were lucky. The missing girls probably have been separated and taken out of the country by now, officials said.
"The search must be in Niger, Cameroon and Chad, to see if we can find information," said Gordon Brown, the former UK prime minister and a U.N. special envoy for global education.
But Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan said he believes the girls are still in the forest where the militants disappeared shortly after their capture.
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The Lead with Jake Tapper draws not only on Tapper’s deep knowledge of politics and national issues, but also seeks to examine and advance stories across a wide range of topics that demonstrate his own curiosities and interests. Compelling headlines come from around the country and the globe, from politics to money, sports to popular culture, based on news drivers of the day.
The Lead with Jake Tapper airs weekdays at 4 p.m. ET.
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