Boko Haram: Kidnapped Girls Have Been Married Off, Truce Never Happened

11/01/2014 08:43 am ET | Updated Jan 01, 2015
ASSOCIATED PRESS

By Isaac Abrak

ABUJA, Nov 1 (Reuters) - A man claiming to be Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau said more than 200 girls kidnapped by the group six months ago had been "married off" to its fighters, contradicting Nigerian government claims they would soon be freed.

Nigeria's military says it killed Shekau a year ago, and authorities said in September that they had also killed an imposter posting as him in videos. In the latest recording it is hard to see the man's face as he his filmed from a distance.

But it is likely to raise grave doubts about whether talks between a Boko Haram faction and the government in neighboring Chad will secure the release of the girls, who were kidnapped from a secondary school in Chibok, northeast Nigeria, in April.

"We have have married them off and they are all in their husbands' houses," the man claiming to be Shekau says.

"The over 200 Chibok girls have converted to Islam, which they confess is the best religion. Either their parents accept this and convert too or they can die."

The majority of the kidnapped girls were Christians.

The man in the video also denied there was a ceasefire, and denounced Ahmadu, who says he represents Boko Haram in Chad.

"Who says we are dialoguing or discussing with anybody? Are you talking to yourselves? We don't know anybody by the name of Danladi. If we meet him now we will cut off his head," the man in the video says.

"All we are doing is slaughtering people with machetes and shooting people with guns ... War is what we want."

He says also that they are holding a "white man." The only known hostage seized in the northeast is a German teacher kidnapped from a college in the northeastern city of Gombe in July by gunmen widely assumed to be linked to Boko Haram.

Shekau's denial of the ceasefire appears supported by the violence since the government announced it two weeks ago. It also raises doubts about the actual influence of Ahmadu.

The five-year-old campaign for an Islamic state by Boko Haram, which has killed thousands and whose name means "Western education is sinful," has become by far the biggest menace to the security of Africa's biggest economy and top oil producer.

Its fighters have attacked targets almost every day for weeks and last week seized control of Mubi, the home town of Nigeria's defense chief Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh. It was Badeh who announced the ceasefire.

They robbed banks, burned down houses and hoisted their black flag over the Emir's palace, killing dozens of people and forcing thousands to flee, witnesses in Mubi said.

A car bomb thought to have been planted by Boko Haram killed at least 10 people at a crowded bus stop in Gombe on Friday morning, emergency services said.

The government has blamed the violence on Boko Haram's allied criminal networks that it cannot control. There are also thought to be several competing factions within the group. (Writing by Tim Cocks; Editing by Louise Ireland)

Earlier on HuffPost:

Boko Haram: Nigeria's Homegrown Terror