With Tears, Nigerians marked the second anniversary of the kidnap of 276 girls from their school in Chibok by Boko Haram militants, as a newly-released video offered some hope.
Red-shirted protestors chanted and prayed on the streets of the capital city Abuja yesterday. Some carried banners reading “Bring back our girls now”.
The girls, aged mainly between 16 and 18, were taken from their dormitories in the primarily Christian state secondary school in the north-eastern town of Chibok on the night of April 14, 2014. Around 50 of them managed to escape shortly afterwards, but 219 are still missing.
The Nigerian government was roundly criticized for not coming up with a foolproof plan to rescue the girls. Other countries have offered advice, but it was thought too dangerous to mount an armed attack.
Boko Haram – the name means “western education is forbidden” or “western influence is a sin” – force their captives to convert to Islam.
Boys are trained to become fighters for them; girls, who the Islamist extremists believe should not be educated; may become suicide bombers, but most are treated as sex slaves, forcibly married to members of the group.
There have been suggestions that Boko Haram is willing to exchange their captives for detained insurgents, or for a huge ransom.
In a new development, parents this week were shown a video of 15 of the girls, apparently filmed last December.
Naomi Zakaria, one of the missing girls, says: “I am speaking on 25 December 2015 on behalf of the all the Chibok girls and we are all well.”