Nigeria’s Islamic terrorist leader is threatening to sell teenage schoolgirls abducted three weeks ago from a school in the remote northeast, according to a new videotape released today.
While the exact date of the tape isn’t clear, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau claims responsibility for the first time for the mass abduction, warning his group plans to attack more schools and abduct more girls. Nigeria’s police now say more than 300 girls were abducted in the April 14 raid. Of that number, 276 remain in captivity and 53 escaped.
“I abducted your girls,” Shekau said. He described the girls as “slaves” and said, “By Allah, I will sell them in the marketplace.” The hourlong video features fighters shooting automatic rifles as they chant “Allahu akbar!” or “God is great.” Speaking in the Hausa language of northern Nigeria, Shekau warned, “I have the market to sell them.”
The girls come from a predominantly Christian town, and an Islamic scholar serving as an Associated Press intermediary with the terrorists said Christians among the girls have been forced to convert to Islam. He said Boko Haram, which means “Western education is sinful,” is ready to negotiate ransoms for the girls, but he also said two of the girls have died of snake bites and about 20 are ill.
Witnesses last week reported seeing the girls forced to marry militants—at the nominal “bride price” of about $12—before being herded across the Nigerian border into Cameroon and Chad.
Two bomb blasts in three weeks have killed about 100 people and injured more than 200 in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja. More than 1,500 people have died in the insurgency this year, and many Nigerians are losing confidence in their government.
Shekau defied Western warnings that the abductions could be an international crime, breaking out in English, “What do you know about human rights? You’re just claiming human rights (abuses), but you don’t know what it is.”