Kidnappings: US flying 'manned missions' over Nigeria

2014-05-13 07:35
A screen grab from a video by Nigeria's Boko Haram terrorist network shows the alleged missing girls abducted from the north-eastern town of Chibok. (AP)

A screen grab from a video by Nigeria's Boko Haram terrorist network shows the alleged missing girls abducted from the north-eastern town of Chibok. (AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Lagos - The United States said it is flying "manned" missions over Nigeria in search of over 200 abducted schoolgirls, after the Lagos government dismissed a prisoner-swap offer from the Boko Haram kidnappers.

"We have shared commercial satellite imagery with the Nigerians and are flying manned ISR [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance] assets over Nigeria with the government's permission," a senior US administration official said on Monday.

The official declined to be named, and it was not immediately clear what kind of aircraft were being deployed, nor where they were based.

Boko Haram's leader said in a new video obtained by AFP on Monday that the abducted schoolgirls would only be released if the government freed militant fighters from custody.

Abubakar Shekau made the claim in a 27-minute video, which apparently showed about 130 of the girls who were kidnapped from their school in the remote north-eastern town of Chibok nearly a month ago.

The militant leader said the girls in the video had converted to Islam and all were shown in Muslim dress, reciting the first chapter of the Koran and praying at an undisclosed location.

Asked if the government would reject Shekau's suggestion, Interior Minister Abba Moro told AFP: "Of course."

State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said US intelligence experts were "combing through every detail of the video for clues that might help ongoing efforts to secure the release of the girls".

Their disappearance has triggered global outrage, in part due to a social media campaign that has won the support of high-profile figures including US First Lady Michelle Obama and Pope Francis.

International specialists deployed

A total of 276 students were abducted on 14 April from Chibok, which has a sizeable Christian community. Police say 223 are still missing.

Nigeria's government has been criticised for its slow response to the kidnapping, but has been forced into action as a result of international pressure.

President Goodluck Jonathan has accepted help from the United States, Britain, France, China and Israel, which have sent specialist teams to help in the search effort.

French President Francois Hollande has also called for a west Africa security summit to discuss the Boko Haram threat, which could be held as early as Saturday.

The United States and Britain have been invited, he said.

The latest footage shows the girls in black and grey full-length hijabs, sitting on scrubland near trees.

Three of them are shown being interviewed - two said they were Christian and had converted while one said she was Muslim.

All three pronounced their belief in Islam dispassionately to the camera, sometimes looking down at the ground and apparently under duress.

Most of the group behind them were seated cross-legged on the ground. The girls appeared calm and one said they had not been harmed.

There was no indication of when the video was taken, although the quality is better than on previous occasions and at one point an armed man is seen in shot with a hand-held video camera.

Shekau does not appear in the same scene. Instead, he is seen dressed in combat fatigues, carrying an automatic weapon in front of a lime-green canvas backdrop.

'We have liberated them'

Speaking in his native Hausa language as well as Arabic, he restated his claim of responsibility for the kidnappings, and said the girls were converting to Islam.

"These girls, these girls you occupy yourselves with... we have indeed liberated them. These girls have become Muslims," he said.

"There are still others who have not converted and are holding on to your belief. There are many of them," he added.

"Only Allah knows how many women we are holding, the infidels who Allah commands us to hold."

On the prisoner release, Shekau said Boko Haram's brothers in arms had been held in prison for up to five years and suggested that the girls would be released if the fighters were freed.

"We will never release them [the girls] until after you release our brethren," he said.

Boko Haram has been waging an increasingly deadly insurgency in Nigeria's mainly Muslim north since 2009, attacking schools teaching a "Western" curriculum, churches and government targets.

Civilians, though, have borne the brunt of recent violence, with more than 1,500 killed this year alone while tens of thousands have been displaced after their homes and businesses were razed.

Boko Haram has used kidnapping of women and young girls in the past and Shekau indicated that more were being held. Eleven girls were abducted from the Gwoza area of Borno state on 4 May.

Jonathan has previously said that he believed the kidnapped students were still in Nigeria and would be freed soon.

There have been fears that the girls may have been taken into neighbouring Chad or Cameroon, from where Boko Haram is said to have launched attacks in the northeast and may have camps.

Nigeria's army is currently concentrating its efforts on the Sambisa forest of Borno state while international assistance involves specialist surveillance and intelligence teams.
Read more on:    boko haram  |  abubakar shekau  |  goodluck jonathan  |  francois hollande  |  us  |  nigeria  |  uk  |  china  |  france  |  israel  |  abductions  |  nigeria kidnappings  |  west africa
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
40 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
SPONSORED CONTENT
When is a mountain more than just a mountain? 2014-12-18 07:26

When it’s an adventure! A group of Old Mutual employees found out how much is enough courage, endurance and camaraderie to take on Africa's highest peak.

/News
 

Joburg hot spots for cocktails, craft beer, tapas and wine!

It’s the season to be jolly – so we’ve rounded up some new Joburg hot spots!

 
 

I love summer.24

Summer Survey!
Great ideas for the best summer sandwiches!
Christmas lingerie to make this festive season the best one ever!
13 things you might not know about Disneyland

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

2DAYS ONLY – 30% off Appliances

Coffee makers, blenders, fans, juicers and more. T&Cs apply. Shop now!

2 DAYS ONLY – 40% off books

Get 40% off when you buy 2 books. For two days only! T&Cs apply. Buy now!

Up to 50% off on outdoor gear

Save on chairs, blankets, cooler bags, umbrellas and more. Shop now!

Save on Samsung

Cameras, mobile phones, TVs, Tablets and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

Grand Theft Auto 5

Now available on PS4, Xbox One and PC from R649. Buy now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

At last you are able to see the light. You are able to break through obstacles in an innovative and original way. Visualisation is...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.