Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau has claimed in a new video that 219 schoolgirls who were kidnapped by the Islamist group’s militants from the remote town of Chibok in Nigeria in April, had converted to Islam and been married off.
The new video, obtained by Agence France-Presse, or AFP, on Friday, surfaces two weeks after the Nigerian military announced that Boko Haram had agreed to a cease-fire and would release the abducted schoolgirls. Shekau denied the claims by the Nigerian government in the video, ruling out chances of future talks, AFP reported.
“We have not made ceasefire with anyone,” Shekau said in the video. “We did not negotiate with anyone... It's a lie. It's a lie. We will not negotiate. What is our business with negotiation? Allah said we should not.”
This is the second time Shekau has mentioned the kidnapped girls, after a video in May showed more than 100 of them in a rural location. The girls, dressed in hijab, were seen reciting verses from the Koran.
“Don't you know the over 200 Chibok schoolgirls have converted to Islam? They have now memorized two chapters of the Koran," Shekau said. “We have married them off. They are in their marital homes.”
According to a report released this week by Human Rights Watch, forced marriage is commonplace in Boko Haram, which has more than 500 women and young girls in its custody.
In addition to the schoolgirls, Shekau also claimed that the group is holding a German national, who was kidnapped on July 16. The foreigner was said to be a teacher at a government technical training centre in Gombi, about 62 miles from the Adamawa state capital Yola, AFP reported.
The latest announcement by Boko Haram follows last week’s media reports, saying that at least 17 people were killed and about 30 teenagers were kidnapped by suspected Boko Haram militants in a series of attacks in northeastern Nigeria’s Borno State.
The Nigerian government has been trying to control the spread of Boko Haram, which has been aiming to establish an Islamic state in northern Nigeria, since the group became active in 2009.