July 31, 2014
Nigeria: Boko Haram offers to swap kidnapped girls for prisoners
The leader of the Nigerian Islamist rebel group Boko Haram has said he will release more than 200 schoolgirls abducted by his fighters last month in exchange for prisoners, according to a video.
Around 100 girls wearing full veils and praying are shown in an undisclosed location in the 17-minute video in which Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau speaks, according to the French news agency Agence France-Presse.
Militants 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 managed to escape but around 200 remain missing.
The attack has provoked global expressions of outrage, and concern about the fate of the girls deepened when Shekau threatened in a video released earlier this month to sell the girls "in the market".
The Nigerian government has been sharply criticised for its response to the abductions but President Goodluck Jonathan said yesterday that international military and intelligence assistance made him optimistic about finding the girls.
The mass abduction of schoolgirls has touched a chord around the world, and triggered a support campaign using the Twitter hashtag #BringBackOurGirls.