December 22, 2014
Islamist Boko Haram claims abduction of 200 Nigerian schoolgirls
The Islamist militant group Boko Haram claimed responsibility today for the abduction of more than 200 schoolgirls during a raid in the village of Chibok in northeast Nigeria last month.
"I abducted your girls," Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau said on a video obtained by AFP news agency. "I will sell them in the market, by Allah," he added, after reports that some of the 223 girls still missing may have been sold as brides across Nigeria's border with Chad and Cameroon for as little as $12.
Boko Haram on April 14 stormed an all-girl secondary school in the village of Chibok, in Borno state, then packed the teenagers, who had been taking exams, onto trucks and disappeared into a remote area along the border with Cameroon.
The brazenness and sheer brutality of the school attack has shocked Nigerians, who had been growing accustomed to hearing about atrocities in an increasingly bloody five-year-old Islamist insurgency in the north.
Boko Haram, now seen as the main security threat to Africa's leading energy producer, is growing bolder and extending its reach.
The kidnapping occurred the same day as a bomb blast, also blamed on Boko Haram, that killed 75 people on the edge of Abuja and marked the first attack on the capital in two years.
The militants repeated that bomb attack more than two weeks later in almost exactly the same spot, killing 19 people and wounding 34 in the suburb of Nyanya.
The girls' abductions have been hugely embarrassing for the government and threaten to distract attention from its first hosting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) for Africa, this week.
The apparent powerlessness of the military to prevent the attack or find the girls in three weeks has triggered anger and protests in the northeast and in Abuja.