Islamist militant Group Boko Haram has admitted to kidnapping over 200 schoolgirls in northern Nigeria, and threatens to sell them.
Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau made the following statements in a 57 minute video obtained by the AFP news agency.
“I will repeat this: Western education should fold up. I abducted your girls.”
“I will sell them in the market, by Allah,” Shekau said, claiming his group was holding the girls as “slaves”.
“I will marry off a woman at the age of 12. I will marry off a girl at the age of nine,” he said elsewhere in the video.
Unconfirmed reports from local leaders in Chibok suggested that the girls had been taken across Nigeria’s borders with Chad and Cameroon and sold as brides for as little as $13.50 CAD.
For the first time since the girls were abducted on April 14 from their school in Chibok, Nigeria's president has appealed for international help. Goodluck Jonathan said on Sunday that he had sought help from US President Barack Obama, and also approached other world powers including Britain, France and China for help on security issues.
"This is a trying time for this country... it is painful," he said, and pleaded for the cooperation of parents, guardians and the local communities in the rescue efforts. On Saturday, US Secretary of State John Kerry promised help. "The kidnapping of hundreds of children by Boko Haram is an unconscionable crime, and we will do everything possible to support the Nigerian government to return these young women to their homes and to hold the perpetrators to justice," Kerry said from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
International attention on the plight of the missing girls was initially slow but has grown quickly in recent days, in part because of a social media campaign – #bringbackourgirls. Meanwhile, on the ground in Nigeria, there are reports that protest leaders are being victimized, and that one of the leaders has been detained, allegedly on orders from President Goodluck Jonathan’s wife. Activists say Mrs. Jonathan accused the activists of fabricating the abductions to give the government a bad name. They also said the First Lady accused them of supporting Boko Haram. The First Lady's office has denied there were any arrests.
With files from AP, BBC