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Nigeria girls example of sexual violence ‘Africans’ slam Boko Haram’s kidnappings

LONDON, June 13, (AFP): Boko Haram’s abduction of hundreds of schoolgirls is a “heinous example of the scourge of sexual violence”, Nigeria and its neighbours said Thursday as they reaffirmed their commitment to defeating the militant group. Representatives from Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Benin gathered in London to discuss progress on an action plan agreed last month in Paris, when their countries pledged to “declare war” on the Islamic insurgency.

They met on the sidelines of a global summit on combating sexual violence in conflict, co-hosted by British Foreign Secretary Hague and Hollywood star Angelina Jolie, which they said was directly related to the schoolgirls’ plight. “The abduction of the Chibok schoolgirls was a heinous example of the scourge of sexual violence, which we are determined to eliminate around the world,” they said in a communique.

They were joined by representatives of the European Union, United Nations, African Union, France, Canada, Britain and the United States, which are providing support. In a video released after the kidnapping Boko Haram said it would sell the girls as slaves. Hague pledged further British training and tactical assistance for the Nigeria armed forces in their search for the girls, although his office would not give details. The minister himself refused to give a “running commentary” on the search, but said a “great deal of work continues with multi-national support”.

He also announced a fresh initiative with the United States to boost by one million the number of children going to school in northern Nigeria, where Boko Haram is based. “We want to ensure that Boko Haram does not succeed in its twisted mission to deny education to girls,” Hague said. The minister said that defeating the group would be “a long and difficult task”. “But the atrocities committed against innocent and vulnerable communities are too important to ignore,” he said. “And all the countries gathered here today have shown that we are certainly not going to ignore them and our resolve to defeat them has been further increased.”

The leader of the Nigerian Islamist rebel group Boko Haram has said he will release more than 200 schoolgirls abducted by his fighters last month in exchange for prisoners. Around 100 girls wearing full veils and praying are shown in an undisclosed location in the 17-minute video in which Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau speaks, according to the French news agency. Militants fighting for an Islamist state stormed a secondary school in the northeastern village of Chibok on April 14 and seized 276 girls who were taking exams. Some managed to escape but around 200 remain missing.

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