The 223 kidnapped schoolgirls in Nigeria are being held by the extremist group Boko Haram and will be sold on the black market that deals in human flesh, the militant group's leader declared in a video, which the French Press Agency, AFP, says it obtained on Monday.
Until the nearly hour-long video surfaced, of a rant by Boko Haram Chief Abubakar Shekau, there had been no independent confirmation that, as widely suspected, Boko Haram was responsible for the kidnappings.
Nigerian First Lady Denies Schoolgirls Were KidnappedWhile the Nigerian government's perceived lackadaisical response to the crisis of the kidnapped schoolgirls has sparked nationwide outrage in Africa's most populous country, Nigerian First Lady Patience Jonathan accused protest leaders of fabricating the mass kidnapping as part of an anti-government plot.
On Monday, police, said to be acting on the First Lady's orders, arrested two leaders of protest marches Monday and accused them of attempting to give her husband, President Goodluck Jonathan, "a bad name."
The kidnapped schoolgirls were abducted about three weeks ago, as they slept in a school dormitory in Nigeria's Chibok region, in a nighttime raid by a large force of armed militants. Suspicion immediately fell on to Boko Haram, an Islamic extremist group whose name translates roughly as "Western education is forbidden," and which has been behind numerous bloody terror attacks within the country.
Boko Haram Leader Vows To Sell Schoolgirls Because Allah Commands It
But the chilling and bizarre video, as reported by AFP and CNN, leaves little doubt that Boko Haram is indeed holding the kidnapped schoolgirls.
"I abducted your girls. I will sell them in the market, by Allah!" the Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau, or someone claiming to be him, rants in the video. "There is a market for selling humans. Allah says I should sell. He commands me to sell. I will sell women. I sell women."
Earlier reports said the girls had already been sold as child brides for the equivalent of $12 each. Police on Friday said that 53 of the 276 kidnapped schoolgirls had escaped, with 223 remaining in captivity since the April 14 mass kidnapping.
In the video, Shekau says he understands why the country is outraged at him over the kidnapped schoolgirls.
"We are holding people as slaves," he explains.
Because school enrollment records are always incomplete, police say, the number of kidnapped schoolgirls could actually rise, as new names come up.