Mother sees kidnapped Nigerian girl in Boko Haram video
A mother of an abducted Nigerian schoolgirl has identified her daughter in a video posted by Islamist rebels that showed dozens of girls in captivity, a school leader said on Tuesday.
The mother watched the video on television on Monday evening and spotted her daughter among the girls sitting on the ground and wearing veils, said Dumoma Mpur, parent-teachers association chairman at Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, northeastern Nigeria.The leader of rebel group Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, issued the video on Monday with an offer to release more than 200 girls, who were kidnapped from their school in an April 15 raid, in exchange for prisoners held by the government.
The footage was the first visual evidence of the girls in captivity. It showed more than 110 girls sitting on the ground in a rural location chanting and singing.
It was not clear when the video was filmed or whether Shekau, who sat in front of a green backdrop holding an AK-47 during part of it, was in the same location as the girls.
“The video got parents apprehensive again after watching it, but the various steps taken by the governments and the coming of the foreign troops is boosting our spirit, even though I have not seen the any one soldier in Chibok yet,” Mpur told Reuters by telephone.
The Nigerian government said it was exploring all options in its effort to rescue the girls.
International search effort
The United States and Britain have sent experts to help with the search and Nigeria has sent two divisions to the northeastern border region.
U.S. surveillance aircraft were flying over remote areas of northeast Nigeria as part of an international hunt for the girls.
The mass abduction of the girls from their boarding school in Chibok has caused outrage around the world and Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan’s government has faced criticism from parents and others for its a slow response.
It has also brought global publicity to Boko Haram, which has killed thousands of Nigerians since it took up arms in 2009 to fight for an Islamist state.
The group had initially threatened to sell the girls into slavery but on Monday offered to trade them for detained militants.
The U.S. State Department said Washington had sent military, law-enforcement and development experts to Nigeria.
“We have shared commercial satellite imagery with the Nigerians and are flying manned ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) assets over Nigeria with the government’s permission,” a U.S. official said.
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said U.S. teams on the ground “are digging in on the search and coordinating closely with the Nigerian government as well as international partners and allies”.
The girls’ exact whereabouts and whether they are being held in one or more groups is not known. Chibok is close to Nigeria’s border with Cameroon, Niger and Chad in a sparsely populated area of the Sahel region.
A Nigerian soldier with an artillery unit said rebels at the weekend ambushed his unit in the Sambisa forest, which is a Boko Haram stronghold, using mines and rocket-propelled grenades.
They killed eight soldiers and wounded four more, said the soldier, who spoke by telephone on condition of anonymity. There was no immediate response from Nigerian Defense Headquarters.
Jonathan was due to return to Abuja on Tuesday from the Congo Republic, where he held talks with President Denis Sassou before a regional security summit in Paris on Saturday to discuss Boko Haram.