It has been almost two weeks since the Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram abducted over 300 Nigerian schoolgirls aged 16 to 18. It is believed they are being held captive in the Sambisa Forest, a territorial stronghold for the Boko Haram insurgents. The teenage girls were taken overnight from their private boarding school in Borno, Nigeria.
Borno’s police chief has asked the parents of the abducted girls to come forward with photos of their children. He told the BBC that it was necessary in order to narrow down who specifically was missing, and to get an exact count of how many people were abducted.
The Borno Police Commissioner said the number of girls that have successfully escaped from Boko Haram’s grasp has risen to 53 thus far.
Disturbing reports note the possibility that many of the abducted girls were taken across Nigeria’s border into Chad and Cameroon and sold off into forced marriage. It has been reported the teenage girls were sold off into marriage for an estimated 12 US dollars.
“The cruel abduction of some innocent girls, our future mothers and leaders, in a very horrific and despicable situation in Borno state is quite regrettable,” said Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan at a Mayday rally on Thursday.
Boko Haram, translated as “Western Education Forbidden” in the local language, has been responsible for the deaths of over 2,500 Nigerian people in the first few months of 2014 alone. Boko Haram has maintained close relations with Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, a terrorist group that seeks overthrow African governments and impose Islamic states in the region.
The US State Department lists Boko Haram as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. In the 2013 announcement, the State Department spokesman said of Boko Haram: “Boko Haram has been conducting an ongoing and brutal campaign against Nigerian military, government, and civilian targets. Among its most lethal attacks, Boko Haram carried out indiscriminate attacks in Benisheikh, Nigeria in September 2013 that killed more than 160 innocent civilians, including women and children. Boko Haram has also conducted attacks against international targets, including a suicide bombing of the United Nations building in Abuja on August 26, 2011, that killed 21 people and injured dozens more, many of them aid workers supporting development projects across Nigeria.”