On April 15, 2014, the militant group Boko Haram launched an ambush that would get the attention of people all over the world. But this attack wasn’t on a rival group, or their government, or any other fighting force. It was an ambush on an all-girls school. In the middle of the night, the group now allied with the Islamic State, or Daesh to some, took 276 girls from their dormitory in the Borno State of northern Nigeria. Where the girls have disappeared to has become a mystery with local and international government forces, completely lost on the whereabouts of the students. Now, according to VICE News, one Boko Haram commander is claiming to have the location of the missing Chibok girls, and is using them as a bargaining chip.
The commander requested anonymity from VICE correspondent Kaj Larsen, and claimed to know where they are.
“I know where they are… You want to know where they are? They are not with us. If we can get what we want, we know where they are, we will get them.”
When asked if the girls were now a bargaining chip, the commander simply said, “What we want is for the country to commit to the teachings of Allah and the Prophet Muhammed.”
Since the disappearance of the girls, 57 have managed to escape and return home, but none of this has helped the government to end the terror that has seized its country in the form of Boko Haram. The country has stepped up its efforts to defeat the terrorist organization, However. According to Popular Mechanics, Nigeria has successfully destroyed Boko Haram targets using its first drone strike. They write, “Today, Nigeria announced a successful drone strike in its ongoing war against the militant group Boko Haram. With it, Nigeria joins a dubious club of the United States, the United Kingdom, Israel, Pakistan, and Iraq who have all used armed drones in modern war.”
This is controversial due to the fact that the United States has refused to sell drone technology to developing nations, fearing the unmanned aircraft may be used irresponsibly. But the use of drones may help Nigeria finally defeat Boko Haram, an objective left nearly untouched until the past year when government troops were able to take back territory and several strongholds in the northern region of Nigeria. Many believe that Nigerian forces stand no chance of defeating the Islamic militants.
After the abduction of the Chibok girls, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau came forward in a video claiming responsibility. They have given no indication of willingness to release the girls who have not seen their families in two years.
Boko Haram’s six-year killing spree has created a refugee situation numbering beyond 1.5 million, according to VICE. An attack on the city Maiduguri on January 31 left 65 individuals dead, some burned to death. Boko Haram has since spread into neighboring countries of Cameroon, Niger, and Chad. However, Boko Haram has failed to hold ground in these countries, and the territory they have is usually fluid. The main success of these countries to keep Boko Haram on the run is because of a coordinated effort between governments.
When the bloodshed will end is anybody’s guess. Developments in the search for the missing Chibok girls can be tracked through the social campaign #BringBackOurGirls.
[Photo by Jossy Ola/AP Images]