At least 50 girls are still unaccounted for after a suspected Boko Haram attack at their school in northeast Nigeria, officials said.
It was unclear Wednesday whether the students were abducted by the militants or are missing after fleeing men who raided the Government Girls Science Technical College (GGSTC) on Monday night in Dapchi, Yobe State.
Suspected Boko Haram militants raided a school in northeast Nigeria on Monday
Around 80 schoolgirls are rescued by Nigerian military
"The Yobe State Government has no credible information yet as to whether any of the schoolgirls was taken hostage by the terrorists," said Abdullahi Bego, an aide to the state Governor Ibrahim Gaidam, in a statement.
Bego added that the governor is working with the military and law enforcement agencies to make sure all the students from the school are accounted for.
The statement added: "As the public is aware, the students were helped by their teachers to escape through the night to the surrounding bush and villages as the terrorists stormed the town last Monday.
"Out of the 926 students in the school, over 50 are still unaccounted for as of the time of this statement. However, the Yobe State Government has continued to receive information about some of the girls being found in the general area to which they escaped."
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari also posted a statement on Twitter saying he had "directed the Military and Police to mobilize immediately to ensure that all the missing girls of Government Girls Secondary School, Dapchi, are found."
Buhari later tweeted, "I share the anguish of all the parents and guardians of the girls that remain unaccounted for. I would like to assure them that we are doing all in our power to ensure the safe return of all the girls."
Yobe State police commissioner Abdulmaliki Sumonu initially told CNN on Tuesday that none of the schoolgirls were abducted but later admitted that the authorities needed more time to be certain of the number of missing students.
Mohammed Alamin, the commissioner for Education for Yobe State, described how some of the terrified students jumped over walls to flee the militants who turned up at their school with trucks, in a eerie echo of the Chibok girls abduction nearly four years ago.
"The students told us that many of the girls ran into the bushes and into nearby villages. Some went as far as 30km away from the school. We don't know whether they are still hiding in the bushes or if they have run home," Alamin said.
Witnesses also told CNN that terrified residents of the town fled on Monday when they saw trucks and motorcycles carrying armed men shooting at people randomly.
Boko Haram kidnapped nearly 300 girls from a school in Chibok in April 2014, setting off global outrage. Many of the Chibok girls were freed after negotiations, but more than 100 remain in captivity, their whereabouts unknown.