Subscribe
First Look

Video surfaces of girls captured by Boko Haram (+video)

Nigerians marched through their major cities on the two-year anniversary of a high-profile kidnapping of almost 300 schoolgirls by Boko Haram, demanding their safe return as the militant group steps up its use of children in suicide bombings.

  • close
    Women attend a demonstration in Lagos, Nigeria, in May 2014, calling on the government to rescue school girls kidnapped by Boko Haram. It has been two years since the children were taken.
    Sunday Alamba/AP/File
    View Caption
  • About video ads
    View Caption
of

Hundreds of Nigerians marched through their country's major cities, angry that more than 200 schoolgirls still remain missing two years after their high-profile kidnapping by Islamic extremist group Boko Haram.

Thursday's march comes amid a growing recognition that Boko Haram is exploiting children not only to harm individual communities but also as a political tool. Their exploitation, while alarming, could actually indicate the military's offensive against Boko Haram is working.

Boko Haram used 44 children to commit suicide attacks last year, representing an elevenfold increase from 2014. The number of attacks overall also increased from 32 to 151. Attacks by children against "soft targets" such as public markets show the group has become more wary of direct assaults against the military, Josh Kenworthy wrote for The Christian Science Monitor:

[Boko Haram] is also keenly aware of the shock value of using children to commit violence. But Boko Haram may be deploying children against soft targets like local markets because the international coalition spearheaded by Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has become a harder target, and has had some success in liberating territory as well as captive women and children. And amid the gloomy statistics, there is evidence that young girls who have been radicalized or forced to carry out attacks can change course – even at the last minute.

Nigerian Vice President Yemi Osinbajo is expected to visit the hometown of the kidnapped girls, where he will likely meet with anger from parents whose children currently have no school.

Boko Haram firebombed the school in Chibok, Nigeria, when they kidnapped almost 300 girls two years ago. The school, which served about 20,000 children in Chibok and the surrounding area, has not been rebuilt.

"Boko Haram has achieved its aim," Yakubu Nkeki, who leads a group for parents of the kidnapped girls, told the AP. "They say they don't want us to have Western education and our children don't."

The march through Nigeria's cities follows the publication on Wednesday of a CNN video that showed 15 of the kidnapped girls, all wearing Islamic headscarves. CNN also released footage showing an emotional mother reach toward the computer screen when she saw her daughter among the kidnapped.

Negotiators working to free the remaining 217 girls received the video, dated Dec. 25, 2015, after they demanded "proof of life" from Boko Haram. Sources familiar with the negotiation process told the Associated Press the video is authentic.

The government of President Muhammadu Buhari has improved Nigeria's record for fighting the militant group and rescued many of the kidnapped women and girls it victimizes. Progress is more slow than hoped, but some may be seen by the group's strategic use of child suicide bombers, Mia Bloom, a communications professor at Georgia State University and author of multiple books on terrorism including, "Bombshell: Women and Terror," told The Christian Science Monitor.

"When these groups are losing – when they're losing territory in particular – one of the ways to project that they're relevant, they're strong, they're still a force with which to be reckoned, is to have these attacks," she said.

This report contains material from the Associated Press.

About these ads
Sponsored Content by LockerDome
 
 
Make a Difference
Inspired? Here are some ways to make a difference on this issue.
FREE Newsletters
Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox.
 

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...

Save for later

Save
Cancel

Saved ( of items)

This item has been saved to read later from any device.
Access saved items through your user name at the top of the page.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You reached the limit of 20 saved items.
Please visit following link to manage you saved items.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You have already saved this item.

View Saved Items

OK