A new video appears to show proof that some schoolgirls kidnapped in 2014 by Boko Haram in Nigeria are still alive. Thursday is the two-year anniversary of the mass abduction of 276 students in Chibok.
CNN reports that Boko Haram has sent a "proof of life" video showing 15 of the 219 still-missing girls abducted from a school in Chibok, northeastern Nigeria, two years ago. In the video, believed filmed at Christmas, the girls wear Islamic head coverings. Shortly after the abductions in 2014, the leader of Boko Haram claimed that the group had forcibly converted the girls to Islam.
"We are all well," one of the girls says in the video, first aired late Wednesday.
Nigerian Senator Shehu Sani, who has attempted to negotiate the girls' release with Boko Haram, told the Associated Press news agency that he found the video credible. Yakubu Nkeki, who leads a support group for parents of the kidnapped girls, said he briefly saw part of the CNN video and recognized some of the girls.
Many have feared that Boko Haram had strapped explosives to the students to use them as weapons as the group has increasingly forced women and girls to detonate themselves in public places. In March, a teenager approached authorities in Cameroon and said Boko Haram intended to use her as a bomb. She said she came from Chibok, but was referring to the administrative region that shares the town's name.
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On the night of April 14, 2014, Boko Haram kidnapped 276 students from the Government Girls Secondary School in the northeast town of Chibok. Dozens of girls later escaped, but 219 remain missing.
Though Boko Haram has claimed the abductions of thousands of people over the years, the mass kidnapping attracted new attention to the group, which had not received much coverage outside of Africa. Social media activists launched the #BringBackOurGirls hashtag campaign, and US first lady Michelle Obama even sent out a tweet with the slogan.
The abductions and failure of Nigerian officials and the military to rescue the girls contributed to President Goodluck Jonathan's loss in elections last year. He had initially denied the mass abduction completely, but eventually reluctantly accepted assistance from other nations in looking for the girls.
The United States, UK and France all sent advisers, including hostage negotiators. US and British drones located at least one group of about 80 of the girls and reported the sighting to Nigeria's government and military, but officials failed to rescue them in time.
mkg/bw (AP, AFP)