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Video appears to show some kidnapped Chibok girls alive – Nigeria cautious over ‘proof of life’

In this May 5, 2014 file photo, women attend a demonstration in Lagos calling on the government to rescue kidnapped school girls of a government secondary school in Chibok, Nigeria.
In this May 5, 2014 file photo, women attend a demonstration in Lagos calling on the government to rescue kidnapped school girls of a government secondary school in Chibok, Nigeria.

LAGOS, Nigeria, April 14, (Agencies): A schoolmate says she cried with joy when she saw a Boko Haram video appearing to show some of Nigeria’s kidnapped Chibok girls, with images of tearful parents recognizing their daughters who have not been heard from since the mass abduction by the Islamic extremists two years ago. “The moment I saw them and recognized their faces — Saratu Ayuba, Jummai Mutah, and Kwazigu Hamman — I started crying, with tears of joy rolling down from my eyes, thanking God for their lives,” she says.

The young woman, who now calls herself Saa and is going to college in the United States, was among several dozen who escaped, jumping down from the back of an open truck af-ter Boko Haram had kidnapped them. The extremists seized 276 girls who had gathered for science exams at the Government Girls Secondary School in the northeast town of Chibok.

Saa spoke in a statement through the Education Must Continue Initiative, a Washington- based project started by Nigerian Emmanuel Ogede, which is sponsoring the education of Saa and nine other students who escaped. “Seeing them gives me the courage to tell the world today that we should not lose hope,” Saa said. “Let’s keep praying and campaigning for #Bring- BackOurGirls.I want the world to raise their voice. Let’s not stop until the government hears us and does something about it.” CNN on Wednesday aired the video, believed made in December, of girls wearing the Islamic hijab, and of one mother reaching out to a computer screen as she recognizes her daughter. “My Saratu,” she wails, before breaking down in sobs. She says Saratu was 15 when she was kidnapped and now is 17.

The video shows 15 of the girls — one with a mischievous grin, one looking uncompromising, downright defi ant, and one downcast. One can feel the pain that shows in the eyes of many of them. They give the date as Christmas, Dec 25, 2015. While Boko Haram is thought to have abducted thousands of people over the years, the mass abduction brought the extremist group to the world’s attention. The campaign hashtag #BringBackOurGirls went as far as the White House, used by US First Lady Michelle Obama.

The failure of Nigerian offi – cials and the military to rescue the girls brought international condemnation and contributed to President Goodluck Jonathan’s loss in elections last year. Meanwhile, Nigeria’s government on Thursday said it was studying a “proof of life” video showing 15 of the more than 200 schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram, as parents and their supporters marked the second anniversary of the kidnapping.

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