UPDATES: NIGERIAN SCHOOLGIRLS KIDNAPPED; 276 STILL MISSING

Here are updates on the abduction of Muslim and Christian Nigerian school girls kidnapped from the northeastern Nigerian town of Chibok by the extremist Islamic fundamentalists  Boko Haram.

The abduction occurred on the night of April 14-15, 2014.  

The school counted Muslim and Christian girls among its students. Many people have questions on what Boko Haram wants and how this group came about.

The following report from CNN gives some information on Boko Haram.

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Boko Haram: A bloody insurgency, a growing challenge

By Faith Karimi and Chelsea J. Carter, CNN
updated 12:11 AM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014

Watch this video

Boko Haram ‘increasingly monstrous’

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Boko Haram’s aim is to impose strict enforcement of Sharia law in Nigeria
  • The name translates to “Western education is sin”
  • The group was founded 12 years ago by Mohammed Yusuf, a charismatic cleric
  • Nigerian police killed him in 2009 in an incident captured on video and posted online

(CNN)Boko Haram‘s lethality is indisputable.

The militant group has bombed schools, churches and mosques; kidnapped women and children; and assassinated politicians and religious leaders alike.

It made headlines again recently with the abduction of 230 schoolgirls in the town of Chibok in northeastern Nigeria. After a fierce gunbattle with soldiers, the militants herded the girls out of bed and onto buses, and sped off. Only a few dozen of the girls have escaped.

What exactly is Boko Haram, and why has it turned into a Nigerian synonym for fear and bloodshed?

Terrorist group abducts Nigerian girls

U.S. designates Boko Haram as terrorists

Boko Haram threatens U.S. in video

What does ‘Boko Haram’ mean?

The name translates to “Western education is sin” in the local Hausa language.

The militant group says its aim is to impose a stricter enforcement of Sharia law across Africa’s most populous nation, which is split between a majority Muslim north and a mostly Christian south.

In recent years, its attacks have intensified in an apparent show of defiance amid the nation’s military onslaught. Its ambitions appear to have expanded to the destruction of the Nigerian government.

How long has it been around?

Map: Where the girls were kidnapped  Map: Where the girls were kidnapped

Map: Where the girls were kidnappedMap: Where the girls were kidnapped

The group was founded 12 years ago by Mohammed Yusuf, a charismatic cleric who called for a pure Islamic state in Nigeria. Police killed him in 2009 in an incident captured on video and posted to the Internet.

The crackdown, some say, made Boko Haram more violent and defiant.

Abubakar Shekau took control of the group and escalated the attacks. It murdered and kidnapped Westerners, and started a bombing campaign that targeted churches, mosques and government buildings.

Why not just kill Abubakar Shekau?

One word: elusive.

Questions have swirled about Shekau, including whether he’s dead or alive. Even his age is unknown — estimates range between 35 and 44.

In recent years, the Nigerian military has touted his death, only to retract its claim after he appeared alive and vibrant in propaganda videos.

He uses the alias Darul Tawheed, and analysts describe him as a ruthless loner and master of disguise. He does not speak directly with members, opting to communicate through a few select confidants.

Why would an Islamist militant group target the Muslim north?

Despite its religious fanaticism, Boko Haram does not consider all Muslims as supporters and allies.

There have been suggestions that it attacks certain mosques because members have spoken out against it and helped federal officials with their crackdown. Its attacks are aimed at striking fear at the heart of the local population to prevent cooperation with the government, analysts say.

Does the north support the group?

Although the northern populace mostly abhors the violence, there is considerable local sympathy and support for Sharia law, seen by many as the only way to end what is widely regarded as a corrupt and inept government. Poverty is prevalent in the northern region, and as the military struggles to halt Boko Haram’s attacks, the militant group is winning perhaps its most important battle: making Nigerians question government competency.

Rights groups have accused local authorities of human rights violations in the fight against the group, adding to the anti-government sentiment.

What’s the West doing to help?

The United States has put a $7 million bounty on Shekau’s head. It also designated Boko Haram as a foreign terrorist network last year. Though it has provided technical and financial support to the Nigerian teams battling the insurgency, there has been a reluctance to put boots on the ground unless there’s a direct national security threat to the West. Boko Haram’s attacks have been limited primarily to Nigeria.

I don’t live in Nigeria, so why should I care?

With a population of 175 million, Nigeria is Africa’s most populous nation and is considered a political and economic powerhouse in the continent. The key U.S. partner is rich in oil, a major trading partner with China, and is the hub of global business in the region.

And as we’ve learned with Mali, any unresolved local Islamist insurgency has the potential of spiraling into a world problem.

Last year, Shekau released a statement vowing to attack the United States and Europe.

“Our strength and firepower is bigger than that of Nigeria. Nigeria is no longer a big deal to us, as far as we are concerned. We will now comfortably confront the United States of America,” he said.

Does it have ties to al Qaeda?

The U.S. says Boko Haram has links to the al Qaeda affiliate in West Africa and to extremist groups in Mali.

What other attacks has the group conducted?

Just this week, a massive explosion ripped through a bus station in the Nigerian capital, killing at least 71 people. In a video, Shekau said the group was behind the attack.

In November, the group abducted dozens of Christian women, most of whom were later rescued by the military. Some were pregnant or had children, and others had been forcibly converted to Islam and married off to their kidnappers.

In 2011, a Boko Haram suicide attack on the United Nations building in Abuja killed at least 25 people.

A year of attacks linked to Nigeria’s Boko Haram

Boko Haram: The essence of terror

SOURCE

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Scared but alive: Video purports to show abducted Nigerian girls

By Aminu Abubakar, Faith Karimi and Michael Pearson,CNN
updated 8:17 AM EDT, Tue May 13, 2014

Source: CNN

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

    • NEW: The United States sends surveillance planes, satellite images to help search
    • All options are on the table to gain release of abducted girls, official says
    • The comments come after Boko Haram video claims to show some of the girls
    • Man thought to be Boko Haram leader says he’ll exchange the girls for prisoners

(CNN) — The girls sit quietly on the ground, dressed in traditional Islamic garb, barely moving, clearly scared.

“Praise be to Allah, the lord of the world,” they chant.

The video, released by French news agency Agence France-Presse, purports to show about 100 of the 276 girls kidnapped by Boko Haram fighters nearly a month ago. It’s the first time they’ve been seen since their abduction April 14.

In separate shots included in the 27-minute video, a man says he will release the girls only after imprisoned members of Boko Haram are freed, according to AFP.

Escaped girl recalls kidnapping ordeal

Nigerian father: Nothing has been done

First lady: Kidnappings ‘unconscionable’

The man identifies himself as Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau. Nigerian officials disputed that claim on Monday, arguing that Shekau is dead. Other experts say the notorious terror group leader is still alive.

Whoever the man in the video is, Nigeria’s interior minister said, the country isn’t interested in negotiating a swap anyway, according to AFP.

But at a later briefing, the director of the National Orientation Agency, a government information ministry, said negotiations could be an option when it comes to rescuing the kidnapped girls.

When asked whether all options were on the table, agency Director Mike Omeri said yes.

“The government of Nigeria will continue to explore all options for the release and safe return of our girls back to their respective homes,” Omeri told CNN.

The road to Boko Haram’s heartland

Experts reviewing video

If authentic, the video released Monday is the first glimpse of the girls since Boko Haram fighters snatched them from a boarding school in the northern Nigerian town of Chibok.

A senior administration official told CNN that U.S. officials have no reason to question its authenticity.

“Our intelligence experts are combing over every detail of the video for clues that might help in the ongoing efforts (to) secure the release of the girls,” the official said.

The abductions have resulted in worldwide outrage directed at the terror group and an influx of Western counterterrorism and law enforcement experts to help Nigeria fight it.

Filmed in a nondescript clearing surrounded by scrub and trees, the girls appear dressed in gray or black veils. Many look nervous or under duress. In one shot, a girl almost whispers a line from the Quran.

In separate shots filmed against a green backdrop, the man who claims to be Shekau says the girls — who come from a Christian stronghold — have converted to Islam.

He appears to open a window to the possibility of negotiating a swap: the girls for Boko Haram prisoners held by Nigeria.

“By Allah, these girls will not leave our hands until you release our brothers in your prison,” he said. “You took our brothers four or five years ago, and now they are in your prisons. You do many things, and now you talk of these girls. We will not let them go until you release our brothers.”

But he also says he still plans to sell them into slavery.

Map: Nima Elbagir's route to Chibok  Map: Nima Elbagir’s route to Chibok

Map: Nima Elbagir's route to ChibokMap: Nima Elbagir’s route to Chibok

U.S. military advisers arrive in Nigeria

Complications in the search for Nigerian girls

Boko Haram attack survivor speaks

A reason for optimism?

Some observers took the video as encouraging.

Not only would it prove that at least some girls are alive and unharmed, said retired U.S. Maj. Gen. James “Spider” Marks, a CNN military analyst, it also gives intelligence analysts something with which to work.

Nigerian government officials also took notice. The governor of the state where Chibok is located, Borno, ordered officials to distribute the video to parents to help identify the girls.

Gov. Kashim Shettima “views the development as encouraging, especially given the fact that some of the girls said they were not harmed,” his office said in a statement. “The governor hopes that the girls did not speak under duress.”

Despite the optimism, Marks said it will still be painfully difficult to find and rescue the girls after a month in the terror group’s custody.

“We have to lower our expectations, sadly, as to what we think this result and outcome is going to look like,” he told CNN’s “New Day.”

A daring escape

A CNN team made the dangerous journey to Chibok to gather firsthand accounts of the abductions.

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.

Who’s the man in the video?

Government officials disputed Monday that the man in the video with the girls is Shekau.

Security forces have confirmed and are sure Shekau is dead, said Marilyn Ogar, deputy director of State Security Services in Nigeria. “So whoever is speaking as Abubakar Shekau is not Abubakar Shekau.”

The same man appears in Boko Haram videos claiming to be Shekau at least as far back as August. And at least one expert doubted Ogar’s claim.

Jacob Zenn, an expert on Boko Haram at the Jamestown Foundation, a policy center based in Washington, said he is skeptical of the Nigerian claim unless it can be backed up with hard evidence.

He said Nigerian authorities have said Shekau was dead several times, only for him to resurface and for the Nigerian military subsequently to acknowledge that he was alive.

“The two recent videos after the abduction of the girls look similar to most of the images, voice and mannerisms of Shekau in almost all Boko Haram videos, including videos when he was a local imam in northeastern Nigeria before 2010,” Zenn said.

If the government’s assertion turns out to be untrue, it wouldn’t be the first time it has been wrong about the terror group since the girls’ abductions. Early in their disappearance, government officials said many of the girls had been recovered — news that, sadly, turned out to be incorrect.

Global search effort

While experts analyze the video, the international effort to find the girls is gaining steam.

U.S. and British officials are in the capital of Abuja to help look for the girls, plan rescue missions and advise on ways to quash the terror group.

The United States is providing manned Defense Department aerial surveillance planes over Nigerian territory and sharing commercial satellite images with Nigeria as part of efforts to find the girls, two senior Obama administration officials told CNN’s Elise Labott on Monday.

China and France are also helping in the search. Israel plans to send a team of counterterrorism experts to help, Jonathan’s office said Sunday.

The United States has said it has no plans to send combat troops.

The U.S. team is working to help the Nigerian military plan operations and boost its capacity, providing investigation and intelligence support, advising on hostage negotiations and other issues, a senior State Department official told Labott.

Why did help arrive so late?

The United States offered assistance immediately after the mass abductions, but Nigeria turned it down until it became apparent that the situation needed a greater response, senior U.S. State Department officials told CNN.

Last week Secretary of State John Kerry said that the United States has been engaged since Day One.

An explosive report Friday accused military commanders of knowing the terror group was headed to the school at least four hours in advance. However, the report said, they were unable to raise enough troops to respond.

The findings by human rights group Amnesty International mirror accounts by parents and villagers, who described to CNN an ineffective military response in the days and weeks after the abductions.

Nigeria’s information and defense ministries disputed the report.

The moment the Nigerian government heard of the kidnappings, “we went in to action,” Information Minister Labaran Maku said.

“We shouldn’t turn this into a trial of the Nigerian government.”

CNN Exclusive: Nigerian girl who escaped Boko Haram says she still feels afraid

Playing dead allowed him to survive massacre

Opinion: What gives Boko Haram its strength?

Journalist Aminu Abubakar reported from Kano, Nigeria, and CNN’s Faith Karimi and Michael Pearson reported from Atlanta. CNN’s Lillian Leposo, Vladimir Duthiers and Paul Cruikshank also contributed to this report.

SOURCE

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Boko Haram offers to swap kidnapped Nigerian girls for prisoners

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria Mon May 12, 2014 7:46pm EDT

1 of 7. People demand for the release of 200 secondary school girls abducted in the remote village of Chibok, during a protest at Unity Park in Abuja May 11, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Joe Penney

Related Video

  • MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (Reuters) – The leader of the Nigerian Islamist rebel group Boko Haram has offered to release more than 200 schoolgirls abducted by his fighters last month in exchange for its prisoners, according to a video posted on YouTube on Monday.

About 100 girls wearing full veils and praying are shown in an undisclosed location in a part of the 17-minute video in which Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau speaks. Boko Haram militants, who are fighting for an Islamist state, stormed a secondary school in the northeastern village of Chibok on April 14 and seized 276 girls who were taking exams. Some have since managed to escape, but about 200 remain missing. A government official said “all options” were being considered to secure the girls’ release. Nigeria has deployed two army divisions to hunt for the girls while several countries, including the United States, Britain, Israel and France, have offered help or sent experts. Nigerian authorities met with some of the experts on Monday and plan further meetings with the West African country’s defense and security agencies, a government statement said.

 

In a 1.25-minute segment of the YouTube video, scores of girls in black and grey veils sit on the ground, chant and sing. Then Shekau, wearing military fatigues and holding an AK-47, addresses the camera. He appears confident and at one point even laughs. “All I am saying is that if you want us to release the girls that we have kidnapped, those who have not accepted Islam will be treated as the Prophet (Mohammed) treated infidels and they will stay with us,” he said, according to a translation of his words originally spoken in a Nigerian language. “We will not release them while you detain our brothers,” he said, before naming a series of Nigerian cities.

 

It was not clear if he was in the same location as the girls, though the release of the video appeared to signal a willingness on his part to negotiate. Mike Omeri, a senior Ministry of Information official, told a news conference that the government has seen the latest video. “The government of Nigeria is considering all options towards freeing the girls and reuniting them with their parents,” he said.

 

The governor of Borno state, where the girls were abducted, said in a statement the video had been distributed to families and local schools in a bid to identify the girls shown. Security officials said on Monday five militants suspected in two car bombs that killed at least 90 people on April 14 and May 1 in the same suburb of the capital, Abuja, have been arrested. Nigeria has arrested hundreds of suspected Boko Haram militants.

 

There have also been several jail break attempts. Suspected militants overpowered guards at a prison near the presidential villa in Abuja in March, triggering a gun battle that killed 21 people. In another incident the same month, insurgents attempting to free captured comrades fought a two-hour battle at Giwa barracks in the northeastern city of Maiduguri. Human rights groups have said previously that Giwa barracks has been used to illegally detain and torture suspects, something the military denies. SUMMIT IN FRANCE The Nigerian government has been criticized for its response to the abductions, but President Goodluck Jonathan said on Sunday international military and intelligence assistance made him optimistic about finding the girls. A Nigerian military source told Reuters on Monday that two foreign counter-terrorism units were already on the ground.

 

“They have visited Chibok on Sunday for preliminary investigation with our troops and experts before fully kickstarting the rescue mission,” the source said. Jonathan will attend a summit in Paris on Saturday to discuss security in the region. On Monday, he visited the Republic of Congo for talks on the meeting with his opposite number. “The objective is to deepen the cooperation and partnership between Nigeria and her neighbors,” said Jonathan’s spokesman Reuben Abati. Leaders from Chad, Benin, Cameroon and Niger are also due to attend along with representatives of the European Union, Britain and the United States.

 

The abductions have touched a chord worldwide and triggered a social media campaign using the Twitter hashtag #BringBackOurGirls. Boko Haram has killed thousands since 2009 and destabilized parts of northeast Nigeria, the country with Africa’s largest population and biggest economy.

 

(Additional reporting by Isaac Abrak, Felix Onuah and Camillus Eboh in Abuja and John Irish in Paris; writing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg, editing by G Crosse)

SOURCE

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Nigerian girl describes kidnap, 276 still missing

May. 6, 2014 6:26 PM EDT

53 NIGERIAN GIRLS WHO ESCAPED
FILE – In this Monday April 21, 2014, file photo, four female students of government secondary school Chibok, who were abducted by gunmen and reunited with their families, walk together in Chibok, Nigeria. They are among the 53 girls who escaped abduction by Islamic extremist kidnappers. The girls did not want to be identified by name and refused to speak to reporters when they were photographed in Chibok, the town from which the mass kidnapping of more than 300 girls took place on April 15. (AP Photo/Haruna Umar, File)
 
LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) — The girls in the school dorm heard the sound of gunshots from a nearby town. So when armed men in uniforms burst in and promised to rescue them, at first they were relieved. “Don’t worry, we’re soldiers,” one 16-year-old girl recalls them saying. “Nothing is going to happen to you.”
The gunmen commanded the hundreds of students at the Chibok Government Girls Secondary School to gather outside. The men went into a storeroom and removed all the food. Then they set fire to the room. “They … started shouting, ‘Allahu Akhbar,’ (God is great),” the 16-year-old student said. “And we knew.” What they knew was chilling: The men were not government soldiers at all.
They were members of the ruthless Islamic extremist group called Boko Haram. They kidnapped the entire group of girls and drove them away in pickup trucks into the dense forest. Three weeks later, 276 girls are still missing. At least two have died of snakebite, and about 20 others are ill, according to an intermediary who is in touch with their captors. There were reports Tuesday that another group of 11 girls had been kidnapped in the villages of Warabe and Wala in northeastern Borno state. State police officials at first denied to The Associated Press that the abductions had taken place.
But later in the day the state police commissioner, Tanko Lawal, confirmed the kidnappings. A resident said the girls, ages 12 to 15, were dragged into the forest Monday night by men armed with AK-47s, according to local journalists. The plight of the kidnapped girls — and the failure of the Nigerian military to find them — has drawn international attention to an escalating Islamic extremist insurrection that has killed more than 1,500 so far this year. Boko Haram, the name means “Western education is sinful,” has claimed responsibility for the mass kidnapping and threatened to sell the girls.
The claim was made in a video seen Monday. Amid growing outrage at the girls’ prolonged captivity, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan Tuesday announced he has accepted a U.S. offer to help in the search, including security personnel and unidentified assets. The British government has also expressed concern over the fate of the missing students, and protests have erupted in major Nigerian cities and New York.
The 16-year-old was among about 50 students who escaped on that fateful day, and she spoke for the first time in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. The AP also interviewed about 30 others, including Nigerian government and Borno state officials, school officials, six relatives of the missing girls, civil society leaders and politicians in northeast Nigeria and soldiers in the war zone.
Many spoke on condition of anonymity, fearing that giving their names would also reveal the girls’ identities and subject them to possible stigmatization in this conservative society. The Chibok girls school is in the remote and sparsely populated northeast region of Nigeria, a country of 170 million with a growing chasm between a north dominated by Muslims and a south by Christians. Like all schools in Borno state, Chibok, an elite academy of both Muslim and Christian girls, had been closed because of increasingly deadly attacks by Boko Haram.
But it had reopened to allow final-year students to take exams. At about 11 p.m. on April 14, a local government official, Bana Lawal, received a warning via cell phone. He was told that about 200 heavily armed militants in 20 pickup trucks and more than 30 motorcycles were headed toward his town. Lawal alerted the 15 soldiers guarding Chibok, he said.
Then he roused sleeping residents and told them to flee into the bush and the nearby hills. The soldiers sent an SOS to the nearest barracks, about 30 miles (48 kilometers) away, an hour’s drive on a dirt road. No help arrived. When the militants showed up two hours after the warning, the soldiers fought valiantly, Lawal said. Although they were outnumbered and outgunned, they held off the insurgents for an hour and a half, desperately waiting for reinforcements.
One was killed. They ran out of ammunition and fled for their lives. As dawn approached, the extremists headed for the boarding school. There were too many gunmen to count, said the girl who escaped. So, even after the students realized the men were Islamic extremists, they obediently sat in the dirt. The men set the school ablaze and herded the girl’s group onto the backs of three pickup trucks.
The trucks drove through three villages, but then the car of fighters following them broke down. That’s when the girl and her friend jumped out. Others argued, the 16-year-old remembered. But one student said, “We should go! Me, I am coming down. They can shoot me if they want but I don’t know what they are going to do with me otherwise.” As they jumped, the car behind started up. Its lights came on. The girls did not know if the fighters could see them, so they ran into the bush and hid. “We ran and ran, so fast,” said the girl, who has always prided herself on running faster than her six brothers.
“That is how I saved myself. I had no time to be scared, I was just running.” A few other girls clung to low-hanging branches and waited until the vehicles had passed. Then they met up in the bush and made their way back to the road. A man on a bicycle came across them and accompanied them back home. There, they were met with tears of joy. “I’m the only girl in my family, so I hold a special place and everyone was so happy,” the girl said. “But that didn’t last long.”
The day after, the Defense Ministry put out a statement quoting the school principal, saying soldiers had rescued all but eight of the girls. When the principal denied it, the ministry retracted its statement. With confidence in the military eroded, the residents of Chibok pooled their money, bought fuel for motorcycles and headed into the dangerous Sambisa Forest. The forest sprawls over more than 23,000 square miles (59,570 sq. kilometers), nearly eight times the size of Yellowstone National Park in the United States, and is known to shelter extremist hideouts.
Mutah Buba joined the search party hoping to find his two sisters and two nieces. They got directions from villagers along the way who said they had seen the abductors with the girls on a forest path. Finally, an old man herding cattle at a fork in the road warned them that they were close to the camp, but that they and their daughters could be killed if they confronted the militants.
The searchers returned to Chibok and appealed to the few soldiers there to accompany them into the forest. They refused, point blank, Buba said. Parents in Chibok ask why they came within a couple of miles of their daughters, yet the military did not. “What was strange was that none of the people we spoke to had seen a soldier man in the area, yet the military were saying they were in hot pursuit,” said Buba, a 42-year-old drawn home to Chibok by the tragedy from Maiduguri, the Borno state capital 130 kilometers (80 miles) to the northwest.
The military says it is diligently searching for the girls, with extensive aerial surveillance. “Every information relayed to security agencies has so far been investigated, including the search of all places suspected as a possible hide-away of the kidnapped girls,” Information Minister Labaran Maku said Friday.
Many soldiers have told the AP they are demoralized, because Boko Haram is more heavily armed and better equipped, while they get little more than a meal a day. Some of the kidnapped girls have been forced into “marriage” with their Boko Haram abductors, sold for a nominal bride price of $12, according to parents who talked with villagers. Others have been taken across borders to Cameroon and Chad, they said. Their accounts could not be verified, but child marriage is common in northern Nigeria, where it is allowed under Islamic law but not the country’s Western-style constitution.
In the meantime, the parents are frantic. Through sobs and jagged gasps for air, the mother of a missing 15-year-old said she had lost confidence in the authorities. “I am so very sad because the government of Nigeria did not take care of our children and does not now care about our children,” said the mother, who spoke on condition of anonymity to protect her daughter.
“All we have left is to pray to God to help them and help us.” The mother of six wondered what would happen to her daughter’s lofty ambition to become a doctor. She said the girl spent her time caring for the family, and would cook whatever her mother wanted to eat. “She is my first-born, the best,” said the mother, who broke into a scream followed by wails of sorrow. “What am I to do as a mother?” The only way to get the girls back is through negotiation, according to an Islamic scholar who has mediated the release of previous hostages.
The scholar, who remained anonymous because his position receiving messages from Boko Haram is sensitive, said the militants are willing to free the girls for a ransom, but have not specified how much. The 16-year-old who escaped keeps thinking of her friends, and wondering why she was able to get away while they are still captive.
She is at times afraid and at times angry. “I am really lucky and I can thank God for that,” she said. “But God must help all of them … Their parents are worrying. Every day, everyone is crying.”
*****************************************************   BOKO HARAM GIRL KIDNAPPING PROTEST
Muslim women march as part of a call for Nigeria’s government to increase efforts to rescue more than 200 girls who were kidnapped from their school last month.  (PHOTO SOURCE:  Sunday Alamba/AP)
Boko Haram:  “Western Education is Forbidden” for girls.
No.
Not having the balls to be a man and not kidnap, abuse, and sell innocent girls into a lifetime of cruelty, degradation, forced concubinage and sex slavery is forbidden. Denying them education and uplifting themselves, forbidden.
Ransoming helpless girls to the highest bidder is forbidden.
Trafficking in the enslavement of young girls is forbidden.
Being a piece of filth and the lowest of the low is forbidden.
The way a nation treats its young and helpless says a lot about it, and Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan’s foot-dragging response speaks volumes.
I pray that the girls are all safely returned to their homes, and that the monsters that look like men but are not men are justly punished for this most vicious of crimes.
But, the clock is ticking, and time for these girls is counting down more and more as the days go by.

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