Islamist terrorist group, Boko Haram, has released a new ‘proof of life’ video showing some of the more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped from Chibok, in north east Nigeria, over two years ago. In the video, the terrorist group confirms long held fears about the state of the girls: about forty of the kidnapped girls have been married off while an unspecified number have been killed by Nigerian airstrikes. The group also claims some of the girls sustained injuries as a result of the airstrikes.
Boko Haram offered the release of the girls in exchange for some of its imprisoned members. “This in short is our message to the Federal Government and the parents of the Chibok Girls: as long as the government does not release our people, we will also never release these girls,” a masked man said in Hausa, one of Nigeria’s main languages.
It’s not the first time Boko Haram have offered this deal. Last year, the group reportedly made a similar offer and even though Nigeria’s president Buhari confirmed the possibility of negotiations, the attempt did not prove fruitful. Since their kidnap, the Nigerian government has faced widespread criticism for its failure to rescue the schoolgirls. While the military has gained important wins in the fight against the group under Buhari, reclaiming territory and destroying Boko Harm’s strongholds, the only success that can be claimed with regard to the kidnapped girls is the rescue of one of them in May.
In response to Boko Haram’s latest offer, Lai Mohammed, Nigeria’s minister of information has confirmed the government is in touch with the group over the video, but says it is being “extremely careful”. This is likely to avoid a repeat of an embarrassing hoax a few months after the girls were kidnapped which saw the government negotiate with the wrong people. There are also concerns over the recent ”split in the leadership of Boko Haram.” Last week, Islamic State, to which Boko Haram pledges allegiance, announced Abu Musab al-Barnawi as the new leader of Boko Haram but questions remain over the status of erstwhile leader, Abubakar Shekau.