Boko Haram releases video of kidnapped schoolgirls
Published 15/04/2016 | 02:30
Boko HoHaram has released a new video showing some of the 200 schoolgirls that it kidnapped from the town of Chibok in northeast Nigeria exactly two years ago.
The video shows 15 of the 219 girls, dressed in black hijabs and talking to an off-screen cameraman.
The video is the first concrete indication that at least some the girls are still alive since a previous video released publicly by Boko Haram in May 2014, which showed more than 100 of them were shown huddled under trees in the Nigerian bush.
Despite a celebrity-backed social media campaign to highlight their plight, the Nigerian government has been unable to secure their release.
A copy of the latest video - obtained by CNN - shows the girls wearing long robes and lined up against a yellow wall, giving little indication of where they are.
When an unidentified cameraman questions them, they confirm that they are taken from the Chibok Government Secondary school, and claim that they have not been mistreated.
Parents of some of the missing children have been shown the video by CNN, with one mother, Rikfatu Ayuba, fighting back tears when she recognised her 17-year-old daughter, Sarutu, in the footage.
"If I could, I would have removed her from the screen," she said.
Another parent broke down crying after seeing that the video did not feature her daughter.
The existence of the video was first disclosed by 'The Daily Telegraph' last weekend, with sources close to Boko Haram saying that it had been produced about three months ago.
They also said that 15 girls featured in it, and that none appeared to show any signs of mistreatment.
The same sources claimed that a few weeks before the production of the video, Boko Haram had told Nigerian government intermediaries that it wanted a $50m ransom for the girls.
The government has denied that any such ransom demand has been made, and has pointed out that the Chibok case is just one of many mass Boko Haram kidnappings that it is having to deal with.
Other mass child abductions by Boko Haram - such as one in the town of Damasak last year - have received virtually no attention.
The video clip of the girls is around two minutes long, and is thought to be intended as a "proof of life" document to show that Boko Haram still has the girls in its custody after two years.
As the camera focuses in on each of the hostages, the cameraman asks them: "What's your name? Was that your name at school? Where were you taken from?"
At the end, one child, named as Naomi Zakaria, makes what appears to a scripted appeal to the Nigerian authorities for help. She adds that she is speaking on Christmas Day of last year.
"I am speaking on 25 December 2015, on behalf of the all the Chibok girls and we are all well," she says, stressing the word "all."
Her words appear to be intended to convoy that the 15 girls have been nominated as representatives of the entire group.
Lai Mohammed, Nigeria's information minister, told CNN that the girls in the video appeared "under no stress whatsoever" and that there had been "little transformation in their physical appearance".
But he declined to comment directly on the state of talks with Boko Haram, which has previously said it would release the girls only in exchange for captured fighters in Nigerian prisons.
(© Daily Telegraph London)