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Two years on, video appears to show schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram

More than 200 girls were abducted from a secondary school in Chibok on 14 April 2014.

Image: Screengrab/CNN

NIGERIA’S GOVERNMENT TODAY said it is studying a “proof of life” video showing 15 of the more than 200 schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram, as parents and their supporters marked the second anniversary of the kidnapping.

The footage is the first time any of the missing girls have been seen since a previous Boko Haram video in May 2014, when about 100 were seen in Islamic dress reciting the Koran.

A total of 276 girls were abducted from the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, northeast Nigeria, on 14 April 2014 (57 escaped in the immediate aftermath).

Three mothers and a classmate of the 219 schoolgirls still missing confirmed the identities of the girls in the images first broadcast on CNN last night.

Borno state governor Kashim Shettima, on a visit to Chibok, where parents of the missing girls held a vigil and said prayers at the school site, said: “The video … is of the Chibok girls. It’s good news.”

A senior government source told AFP it had received the video, which shows the girls in black hijabs, stating their names, that they were abducted from Chibok and saying they were “all well”.

The video is said to have been shot on 25 December last year.

But the source said they were keen to avoid the problems encountered by the previous administration, which prematurely announced talks with Boko Haram elements and even a ceasefire.

“Our intelligence and security authorities … received a similar video in July last year and when they followed the lead it led to a cul-de-sac,” he revealed.

Contact could not be made and it was impossible to determine the identities of the purported Boko Haram members who sent it or if the move had the blessing of the group’s leadership, he added.

Factionalised

Boko Haram has long been known to be factionalised, comprising groups of ideologically sympathetic fighters who do not always act under the direct orders of senior commanders.

In an indication the latest video and the previous unpublicised message may have come from one of these factions, the source also said the government had received a ransom demand last July.

The group asked for €1 million ($1.1 million) for 10 of the girls, the source disclosed.

boko In this May 2014 photo, Martha Mark, the mother of kidnapped school girl Monica Mark, cries as she displays her photo in the family house in Chibok, Nigeria. Source: PA Images

That lends weight to theories the Chibok girls were split up following the abduction and were being held separately in different locations, complicating any possible talks or rescue bid.

AFP has also seen photographs of five girls that were sent to the government in mid-January this year as part of the same bid for negotiations.

Boko Haram’s leader Abubakar Shekau previously said the girls would be released in exchange for Islamist fighters held in Nigerian custody.

Today’s two-year anniversary was marked across Nigeria with vigils and protest marches, including at the site of the abduction, involving many of the missing girls’ parents wearing black.

© AFP 2016

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