Tuesday 24 April 2018

Boko Haram releases new video of kidnapped schoolgirls

A still from Boko Haram video, showing a masked man talking to the kidnapped schoolgirls. Image: Reuters
A still from Boko Haram video, showing a masked man talking to the kidnapped schoolgirls. Image: Reuters

Michelle Faul and Haruna Umar

Some of the abducted Chibok schoolgirls have been killed in Nigerian military air strikes, according to a new video appearing to come from Boko Haram Islamic extremists. It shows one of the alleged victims pleading for authorities to release detained militants in exchange for the girls' freedom.

The video, posted yesterday on Twitter, shows a girl, covered in a hijab, with just her face showing, identified as one of the 276 students abducted from a remote school in northeastern Nigeria in April 2014.

She claims that some of her kidnapped classmates died in aerial bombardments by the Nigerian Air Force and that 40 had been "married" to Islamic extremist fighters.

The video shows a fighter warning in the Hausa language that if President Muhammadu Buhari's government battles Boko Haram with firepower, the girls won't be seen again.

"Presently, some of the girls are crippled, some are terribly sick and some of them died during bombardment by the Nigerian military," the fighter says, appearing before a group of more than 40 young women in hijabs, some holding babies.

"If our members in detention are not freed, let the government and parents of the Chibok girls know that they will never find these girls again," he said.

The video, cited by the SITE Intelligence Group, was posted by Ahmad Salkida, a Nigerian journalist known to have good contacts in Boko Haram.

Dozens of the schoolgirls kidnapped from Chibok escaped on their own within two days of the abduction. Some 218 remain missing.

In the video, the fighter says the Nigerian government has repeatedly lied to its citizens with promises to quickly free those kidnapped from Chibok Government Girls School, who now are all over 18 years old.

The government came under increased pressure from parents and the Bring Back Our Girls campaigners after the May escape of one young woman, a proof of life that they said should encourage the military and government to redouble efforts to rescue the girls.

The escapee said some of the girls had died but that scores remained in captivity under heavy guard.

Yesterday's video appears another proof of life, though it was not immediately possible to reach any of the parents or Chibok leaders to verify the identity of those filmed.

The young woman in the video, probably speaking under duress, begs for help to free them.

The video goes on to show bodies from an alleged air raid, including that of a girl whose eyes briefly flicker.

Nigeria's Air Force has reported near-daily bombardments of Boko Haram camps and the military of increased ground assaults in which they have freed thousands of captives, though none of the girls.

Boko Haram has been forced out of most towns in the past year and has turned to assaulting remote villages and using suicide bombers to attack targets such as mosques and marketplaces.

More than 20,000 people have been killed in the seven-year-old Islamic uprising that has spread from Nigeria to neighbouring countries and has driven 2.2 million people from their homes.

Aid workers say there is a catastrophic humanitarian crisis in newly liberated but still dangerous areas, where half-a-million people are starving and babies are dying daily. There has also been a resurgence of polio in areas that had been under Boko Haram's control as a result of the extremists' opposition to vaccinations.

Irish Independent

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