A video released by the radical Islamist group, Boko Haram, appears to show some of the schoolgirls they abducted in April 2014 from the northern Nigerian town of Chibok.
The footage begins with a shot of a masked man carrying a gun, who demands the release of militants. Speaking in the Hausa language, the gunman says the girls will “never” be returned if the government does not release Boko Haram fighters who have been “in detention for ages”.
There is no indication of the date and location of the video, the first to be seen since CNN obtained footage in April purportedly showing 15 of the girls. One of the girls was later found in May. The return of Amina Ali Nkeki raised hopes that the rest of the 218 missing girls may yet be rescued.
The girls appeared physically weak and traumatised by their captivity.
Parents of the missing girls have described their anguish at seeing their daughters in captivity.
“The fact is we are overwhelmed with a feeling of depression,” said Samuel Yaga, father of abducted Serah Samuel. “It’s like being beaten and being stopped from crying.
“You helplessly watch your daughter but there is nothing you can do. It’s a real heartache. Those who are still alive – we want them back. We want them back irrespective of their condition.”
Many of the girls abducted in Chibok were Christian and were reportedly forcibly converted to Islam. It is feared that many of the schoolgirls have been sexually abused and forced into “marriage” by their captors. A report, “Our Bodies, their Battleground” detailed this kind of treatment of minority Christians in northern Nigeria.
The footage also shows one of the captives, who calls herself Maida Yakubu. She asks her parents to appeal to the government. Maida’s mother, Esther, is one of several Chibok parents who recently published open letters to their daughters, detailing the pain they feel at their children’s absence and their hopes for the future.
The government says it is in touch with the militants behind the video, and that they are doing “everything possible” to secure the girls’ release.