Boko Haram released a video on Sunday showing the bodies of the schoolgirls it kidnapped, claiming that the girls were killed by Nigerian airstrikes.
Boko Haram kidnapped more than 250 schoolgirls from Chibok, Nigeria, over two years ago. The horrific act triggered worldwide outrage and sparked a Bring Back Our Girls campaign. The campaign keeps pressure on the Nigerian government to find and rescue the girls and regularly holds rallies in the Nigerian capital of Abuja.
Jeff Okoroafor, the spokesman for Bring Back Our Girls, said that the video from Boko Haram appeared to be legitimate and some of the girls were recognized by their families, according to the New York Times.
“We are still reaching out to some parents to see if any can recognize more,” Okoroafor said.
In the Boko Haram video, a masked man is seen standing behind many girls. He says, “We want to send this message first to the parents of these girls for them to know that these girls are still with us, some of them, and secondly they should tell the Federal Government of Nigeria, to with immediate effect, release our imprisoned brothers.”
Although some of the girls were able to escape the clutches of Boko Haram, at least 200 of the girls are still missing, according to Business Insider. Many of the girls have been married off, and one of the girls is seen holding a baby in the video.
“Some of the girls, about forty of them with God’s permission have been married, some of them have died as a result of bombing by the infidels,” the masked Boko Haram militant says to the camera in the video.
At the end of the 11 1/2 minute long video, bodies can be seen on the ground.
Information Minister Lai Mohammed said the video was being studied to determine the legitimacy of the video and to “stay on top of the situation” in order to free the girls.
“Since this is not the first time we have been contacted over the issue, we want to be doubly sure that those we are in touch with are who they claim to be.”
The military has denied the airstrikes which Boko Haram claims took the lives of some of the girls. Army spokesman Rabe Abubakar said, “We are nevertheless studying the video clips to examine if the victims died from other causes rather (than) from the allegation of airstrike.”
The girls are not the only victims of kidnappings and other atrocities by Boko Haram. Boko Haram has kidnapped and murdered scores of other women, men, and children as they gained territory, pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, and now have split factions.
Boko Haram is apparently going in two separate directions: one faction named Abu Musab al-Barnawi as the group’s leader for West Africa two weeks ago and no longer associates itself with the Islamic State, and the other faction seems to have stayed loyal to Boko Haram’s previous figurehead, Abubakar Shekau.
As a security analyst and an African affairs specialist at the Jamestown Foundation, a research organization based in Washington, Jacob Zenn believes Shekau’s faction has the girls in its possession.
Shekau’s Boko Haram “has significant logistics capabilities if it has been able to keep so many of the world’s most sought-after girls hidden and captive for more than two years now,” Mr. Zenn said.
The Nigerian military has successfully driven Boko Haram out of some of its territory as well, but the militant group still regularly stages suicide bombings.
To date, Boko Haram has killed over 15,000 people and driven more than two million from their homes.
[Photo by AP Photo/Sunday Alamba, File]