Monday, July 14, 2014

Video - Boko Haram release video mocking plea for kidnapped schoolgirls release

Boko Haram issued a new video Sunday mocking the social media campaign that highlighted the plight of the 223 schoolgirls kidnapped by the Islamists in north-east Nigeria.

In a broadcast apparently marking the girls’ third month in captivity, Abubakar Shekau, the Boko Haram leader, said they would not be freed until the government released the “army” of the group’s fighters held in Nigerian jails.

Shekau also claimed responsibility for three bombings last month and voiced support for Islamic State, the extremists who have seized much of northern Iraq.

The video served as a direct snub to Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl and women’s rights campaigner who arrived in Nigerian capital, Abuja, over the weekend to voice support for the #BringBackOurGirls campaign.

Ms Yousafzai, 17, who moved to Britain after being shot by the Taliban, met parents of the missing girls yesterday and was also expected to hold talks with Goodluck Jonathan, Nigeria’s president.

As she did so, serious doubts emerged about the girls’ chances of ever being rescued. In briefings with The Daily Telegraph over the weekend, Western diplomats said that, despite international publicity, the efforts to find the hostages were little further on than they were in May, when Britain, America and France began to help. With neither a prisoner swap or a rescue considered likely, there was little real prospect of any “breakthrough” in the foreseeable future, they said.

One diplomat said: “It is hard to see this being resolved either by a rescue or a prisoner swap deal, although that is also true for a lot of other girls kidnapped by Boko Haram in recent months and years, who are now bush wives. What may happen is that from time to time, some may seize a chance to escape, or a deal may be done with one particular local faction that is holding some of the hostages. Over the course of a few months or years they may begin to reappear.”

The diplomats’ gloomy assessment is likely to dismay the girls’ families, whose hopes of being reunited with them have been sustained largely by the scale of the international response. On Sunday, Malala, described the girls as “sisters” and said she was going to “speak up for them until they are released”.

Diplomats say the reality is that even if the girls could be located – which is hard, given that the area being searched is “twice the size of Belgium” – it would be impossible to mount a rescue without Boko Haram killing a large number first.

National Post

Related stories: Malala Yousafzai travels to Nigeria to plea for the release of kidnapped schoolgirls

Boko Haram claim bomb blast in Lagos, Nigeria

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