Thu, May 01, 2014 - Page 6 News List

Outrage grows two weeks after Nigeria girls kidnapped

RETURN OUR DAUGHTERS:A group called Women for Peace and Justice has organized a march to demand that more resources be committed to securing the girls’ release

AFP, KANO, Nigeria

Protesters were to hold a “million-woman march” in the Nigerian capital yesterday over the government’s failure to rescue scores of schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram Islamists two weeks ago.

Angry Nigerian parents lashed out at the government on Tuesday as a local leader claimed the hostages had been sold as wives abroad.

“May God curse every one of those who has failed to free our girls,” said Enoch Mark, whose daughter and two nieces were among the more than 100 students abducted from the Government Girls Secondary School in the Chibok area of the northeastern state of Borno.

The attack was one of the most shocking in Boko Haram’s five-year uprising, which has claimed thousands of lives across northern and central Nigeria.

The outrage that followed the mass abduction has been compounded by disputes over how many girls were seized and criticism of the military’s search-and-rescue effort.

Borno officials have said 129 girls were kidnapped when gunmen stormed the school after sundown on April 14 and forced the students — who are between 12 and 17 years old — onto a convoy of trucks. Officials said 52 have since escaped.

Locals, including the school principal, have rejected those numbers, insisting that 230 students were snatched and that 187 are still being held hostage.

Mark said that his wife has hardly slept since the attack, lying awake at night “thinking about our daughter.”

An organization called Women for Peace and Justice has called for a “million-woman protest march” in the capital, Abuja, yesterday to demand that more resources be committed to securing the girls’ release.

Pogo Bitrus, leader of a Chibok elders group, said that locals had been tracking the movements of the hostages with the help of “various sources” across the northeast.

“From the information we received yesterday from Cameroonian border towns our abducted girls were taken ... into Chad and Cameroon,” he said.

The girls were then sold as brides to Islamist fighters for 2,000 naira (US$12) each, Bitrus added.

There was however no independent confirmation of his report and the Nigerian ministry of defense did not immediately answer calls seeking comment.

Some of the students who escaped have said the hostages were taken to Borno’s Sambisa Forest area, where Boko Haram has well-fortified camps.

Locals have scoured the bushlands of the remote region, pooling money to buy fuel for motorcycles and cars to conduct their own rescue effort, saying they have no confidence in the military’s search.

Dozens of Borno women clad in black staged a protest on Tuesday in front of Nigeria’s parliament.

The placard-carrying women rolled on the ground wailing and crying for help to rescue their daughters.

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