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Nigeria marks six months since abduction of schoolgirls by Boko Haram

posted 12 Oct 2014, 04:42 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 12 Oct 2014, 08:41 ]

Six months has passed since Boko Haram militants kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls from a Nigerian school, and there has been little word on their fate ever since.

BORNO, LAGOS AND ABUJA, NIGERIA  (REUTERS / BOKO HARAM HANDOUT / CHANNELS TV) -  More than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls were kidnapped from a village by Islamist militants Boko Haram in April, sparking a worldwide outcry, but there has been little word on their fate ever since.

Boko Haram gunmen carried away some 270 girls and women, aged from 13 to over 20, when they raided the Chibok school in northeast Nigeria near the Cameroon border.

More than 50 eventually escaped, but at least 200 remain in captivity, as do scores of other girls kidnapped previously.

Tuesday (October 14) marks six months since the girls' abduction, and the "Bring Back Our Girls" campaign group plans to continue its months-long sit-in protests and unrelenting call for their rescue.

"Bring Back Our Girls" group is calling for the Nigerian government to take the necessary steps in ensuring the girls are rescued, according to its media coordinator, Bukky Shonibare.

In May Boko Haram militants offered a prisoner swap to release the girls, but the proposal was rejected by the government.

Boko Haram, whose violent five-year campaign to reinstate a mediaeval Islamic caliphate in religiously mixed Nigeria has killed thousands, has in the past two months progressed from bombings, raids and kidnappings to trying to seize territory in remote areas near the Cameroonborder, possibly inspired by similar moves by Sunni Islamist militants in Iraq and Syria.

The military has had mixed results trying to push back the militants, and low morale, a lack of discipline and poor equipment have hurt its ability to fight effectively.

Boko Haram is seen as the number one security threat to Africa's top economy and oil producer, and what began as a grassroots movement has rapidly lost popular support as it becomes more bloodthirsty.

Its tactic - kidnapping boys and forcing them to fight and abducting girls as sex slaves - is a chilling echo of Ugandan rebel Joseph Kony's Lord's Resistance Army, which has operated in Uganda,South Sudan and central Africa for decades.