Boko Haram offers Chibok girls as pawns in new video

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The Chibok girls and one of their abductors in new video
The Chibok girls and one of their abductors in new video. AFP Photo

Boko Haram on Sunday offered some 40 kidnapped Chibok schoolgirls as pawns to negotiate the release of its men in Nigeria’s custody.

The emasculated terrorist group released a new video on Sunday, purportedly showing some of the schoolgirls kidnapped by the group from the Nigerian town of Chibok more than two years ago.

The footage was issued just days after embattled Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau denied claims that he had been replaced as the leader of the Nigeria-based group.

The kidnapping of 276 schoolgirls from Chibok in April 2014 provoked global outrage and brought unprecedented attention to Boko Haram and its bloody quest to create a fundamentalist state in northeastern Nigeria.

While Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has said that the group is “technically defeated” his government has struggled to find the girls, in a political embarrassment for the leadership highlighting Boko Haram’s continued presence in the region.

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

It was attributed to the old Boko Haram name, not the new Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), suggesting it was released by Shekau’s faction.

“There is a number of the girls, about 40 of them, that have been married,” said the man in the 11-minute video, which shows girls with veils sitting on the ground and standing in the background.

“Some of them have died as a result of aerial bombardment.”

The man calls on the Nigerian government to release Boko Haram fighters in exchange for the girls.

“This focuses on using the girls as a bargaining chip,” Ryan Cummings, director at intelligence firm Signal Risk, told AFP.

“The video shows that the war effort is hurting the operations of the group,” Cummings said.

“It does have a sense of almost desperation from Boko Haram.”

Of the 219 girls captured by the terrorists two years ago, only one Amina Ali had been found alive. The Nigerian Government has been working hard to rescue the other girls, according to the Information and Culture minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.

Last week, Boko Haram’s leader Shekau appeared in a video vowing to fight on, amid a leadership scuffle between him and new Islamic State-backed rival Abu Musab al-Barnawi.

Barnawi has criticised Shekau’s indiscriminate and brutal leadership in Nigeria that has seen Boko Haram fighters kill thousands of people in mosques and markets and raze entire cities to the ground.

Throughout 2015, the Nigerian military announced the rescue of hundreds of people, most of them women and children, who have been kidnapped by Boko Haram.

But the missing Chibok schoolgirls were not among them, despite several unconfirmed sightings.

Hadiza Usman, a leader of the Bring Back Our Girls movement, told AFP that he had seen the video and is contacting parents in order to confirm the identities of the girls.

“What we are doing at the moment is to get some relatives and the family to confirm fully that some of those girls were abducted,” Usman said.

*Source: AFP

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