Nigerian Kidnapping


By K. Levek
Nigerian Kidnapping

On April 14th, a Nigerian militant group, Boko Haram, kidnapped Nigerian girls who were attending school. Girls attending the Government Girls Secondary School in the village of Chibok were in class preparing to take exams. The school had been closed because of increasingly deadly attacks, in the area, by Boko Haram.

Boko Haram, a ruthless Islamic extremist group, whose name means, “Western education is sinful,” has claimed responsibility for the mass kidnapping and threatened to sell the girls. On the night of April 14th a local government official, received a warning via cell phone about the imminent attack by Boko Haram. The official was told the group would be heavily armed and traveling in a large group. According to news reports, the official called for help, but no help arrived by the time the militant group made it towards the school. Standing guard at Chibok around were 15-armed soldiers and when Boko Haram arrived they fought them, but eventually ran out of ammunition because they were outnumbered. The 15 soldiers had to run and flee for their lives.
At the school, one unnamed (because of sensitivity and fear) girl recalls, the militant group approached telling the students they were soldiers there to help rescue them. After one of the men in the group chanted ‘Allahu Akhbar,’ (God is great), the girl said, “We knew.” What she says she knew was that they were not soldiers, but the militant group coming to abduct them. She says they commanded the girls to gather outside while they robbed a store for food and then set it on fire. They took 276 girls by trucks from the village and drove into the far out countryside.
U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, called the kidnapping an “unconscionable crime” and has vowed that the U.S.will help rescue the girls. Renewed hope for the girl’s rescue came the last week of May when Nigeria’s Chief of Defence Staff Air Marshal Alex Badeh told Nigeria’s state news agency, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN): “The good news for the parents is that we know where they [the student girls] are, but we cannot tell you.” He added: “We can’t kill our girls in the name of trying to get them back.” Badeh went on to say that Nigeria’s military knows where the more than 200 girls abducted by Boko Haram has ruled out using force to rescue them.
By April 24, the hash tag #BringBackOurGirls, a was trending on Twitter. The #BringBackOurGirls campaign was started to shed light on the missing Nigerian girls. Parents of the missing girls and other Nigerians were seeking international attention to put pressure on their own government to do something for the girls. As of May 7, the hashtag had been used more than 1.5 million times on Twitter. A petition asking the government to dedicate more resources toward the search has been signed more than 84,000 times, and a similar White House petition calling for more support from the international community and U.S. government is circulating widely on social media.
According to Reuters, at least 470 civilians have died in various locations at the hands of Boko Haram, which says it is fighting to establish an Islamic state in religiously mixed Nigeria. Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan has branded the group an “Al Qaeda of West Africa.” He has also set up a committee to work out a rescue strategy, and expressed confidence that the military will rescue the girls.
The only way to get the girls back is through negotiation, according to an Islamic scholar who has mediated the release of previous hostages. The scholar, who remained anonymous because his position receiving messages from Boko Haram is sensitive, said the militants are willing to free the girls for a ransom, but have not specified how much. Most officials think any raid to rescue them would be fraught with danger and probably not worth the risk that their captors would kill the girls.
The Boko Haram group has been terrorizing northeast Nigeria, including a massacre of 59 male students at another school on Feb. 25, leading to the closure of most schools in that part of the country.
Nigeria accepted help from the United States, Britain, France and China last week and about 80 US troops have started arriving in neighbouring Chad to start a mission to try to free the girls. Surveillance drones are scanning the Sambisa forest, where parents say the girls were last sighted. But the forest covers 60,000 square kilometres, more than twice the size of Rwanda, and the rebels know the terrain intimately.
Dozens escaped, but more than 200 girls are still missing. Nigerians and others have accused their government of not acting swiftly or efficiently enough to protect the girls seized in the dead of night.


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