Boko Haram re­leases ‘video’ of Chi­bok girls

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Feature/worldwide -

BOKO Haram has re­leased a video of the Nige­rian school­girls al­legedly kid­napped two years ago, show­ing some who are still alive and claim­ing oth­ers died in air strikes.

The armed group, which has at­tacked both Mus­lims and Chris­tians, seized 276 stu­dents from the Gov­ern­ment Girls Se­condary School in Chi­bok on the night of April 14, 2014. Fifty-seven man­aged to es­cape in the im­me­di­ate af­ter­math.

“They should know that their chil­dren are still in our hands,” says a man whose face was cov­ered by a tur­ban in the video posted on YouTube yes­ter­day, the AFP News agency re­ported.

Ahmed Idris, re­port­ing from La­gos, said the man in the video claimed to be the suc­ces­sor to Abubakar Shekau and called on the Nige­rian gov­ern­ment to re­lease the groups’ fighters from pris­ons. Ear­lier this month, ISIL named Abu Musab al-Bar­nawi as Boko Haram’s new leader, re­plac­ing Shekau, whose sev­enyear rule killed more than 20 000 peo­ple and drove more than 2.2 mil­lon from their homes.

“The speaker said mil­i­tary air strikes had killed many of the kid­napped Chi­bok school­girls, and he asked the par­ents of th­ese girls to press the gov­ern­ment to re­lease the groups’ fighters from pris­ons across Nige­ria,” Idris said.

‘‘The speaker also said that 40 of the school­girls were mar­ried, some were killed by airstrikes and there were sev­eral in­juries.‘He also used the video op­por­tu­nity to as­sure his com­rades in prison and urged them to be re­silient and as­sured them they would be soon be freed,” our correspondent added.

The kid­nap­ping of the girls has be­come a po­lit­i­cal is­sue in Nige­ria, with the gov­ern­ment and mil­i­tary crit­i­cised for their han­dling of the in­ci­dent and fail­ure to track down the girls.

About 2 000 girls and boys have been ab­ducted by Boko Haram since 2014, with many used as sex slaves, fighters and even sui­cide bombers, ac­cord­ing to Amnesty In­ter­na­tional, the Lon­don-based hu­man rights or­gan­i­sa­tion.

The group has been wag­ing a cam­paign against the Nige­rian gov­ern­ment for sev­eral years, bat­tling what it calls Western in­flu­ence. In re­cent months, it has in­creas­ingly used sui­cide and bomb at­tacks as the Nige­rian mil­i­tary pushes the group out of ter­ri­to­ries they once con­trolled.

Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari has de­clared Boko Haram “tech­ni­cally” de­feated, and said suc­cess in the cam­paign would be mea­sured on the re­turn of the Chi­bok girls and other ab­ductees. — Al Jazeera

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