Around 100 kidnapped girls are seen for the first time in a video reported to have been released by the Islamist terror group Boko Haram. Foreign Correspondent Jonathan Miller reports from Abuja.
Agence France-Presse reported that it had seen the video, which features a man claiming to be Abubakar Shekau – leader of Boko Haram. The 17-minute video shows around 100 girls praying in an undisclosed location.
We will never release them until after you release our bretheren. Abubakar Shekau
Around 270 schoolgirls remain missing after being kidnapped from their school in Borno state on 14 April.
In the video, Boko Haram says the girls will be released in exchange for prisoners.
Shekau says: “These girls, these girls you occupy yourselves with their affair – we have indeed liberated them. We have indeed liberated them. Do you know we have liberated them? These girls have become Muslims, they are Muslims.”
He goes on to call for the release of Boko Haram’s “bretheren”.
“It is now four years or five years that you arrested our bretheren and they are still in your prison. You are doing many things (to them). And now you are talking about these girls.
“We will never release them until after you release our bretheren.”
Shekau continues: “All I am saying (is) if you want us to release your girls, those of them that have not accepted Islam, they are now gathered in numbers – and we treat them well the way the prophet would treat well any infidel he seized.
“They are staying (with us). We will never release them until our bretheren are released. Those that are held in Borno, those that are held in Yobe, those that are held in Kano, in Kaduna, in Abuja, in Lagos, up to Enugu.”
Three of the girls speak in the video – with two of them saying they have converted from Christianity to Islam. All the girls are wearing the full-length hijab.
It is the second video released by Boko Haram since the kidnapping. In the first, Shekau said he would “sell” the girls.
“There is a market for selling humans,” he said. “Allah says I should sell. He commands me to sell. I will sell women. I sell women.”
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan’s government has faced protest over its handling of the kidnapping – with claims from Amnesty International last week that the government was warned before the attack on a school in Borno state took place.
On Sunday, President Jonathan said he was optimistic that, with international assistance, the girls would be found.
A statement said the president was “very optimistic that with the entire international community deploying its considerable military and intelligence-gathering skills and assets in support of Nigeria’s efforts … success will soon be achieved.”
The kidnapping is part of the latest stage of a four-year campaign by the Islamist terror group, whose name means “Western education is forbidden”.