(Photo: Screen grab via YouTube/AFP News Agency)
Eleven parents of the over 200 schoolgirls who were kidnapped by Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram in Chibok, Nigeria have died, according to reports.
"One father of two of the girls kidnapped just went into a kind of coma and kept repeating the names of his daughters, until life left him," said community leader Pogu Bitrus, adding that at least four of the parents have died due to trauma from the mass abduction in April, according to The Associated Press.
Chibok and other villages in the region have been besieged by militants, with Nigeria's army unable to control the situation. Seven fathers of the kidnapped girls were among 51 bodies carried over from the nearby village of Kautakari this month.
The schoolgirls, most who still remain captive, are feared to have been sold to Islamic militants as child brides.
The militant group has been waging war on Christians and the Nigerian government for five years, and has carried out numerous attacks on churches, schools, official buildings, and have raided entire towns and villages.
A Human Rights Watch report earlier in July said that at least 2,053 civilians had been killed at the hands of Boko Haram during the first half of 2014 alone.
The international community reacted with outrage in April over the news of the kidnapped schoolgirls, who were taken by Boko Haram militants who rode in on trucks. The U.S. and the U.K. sent military teams to Nigeria to help with the search of the girls, but so far have been unable to recover them.
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan met on Tuesday with parents of the schoolgirls, as well as some of their classmates who managed to escape. Jonathan promised that his government will continue working to find the girls and bring them back alive.
Bitrus said that Chibok's residents, many of them Christians, are under stress from the constant attacks by the Islamic militants.
"There are families that are putting up four and five other families," Bitrus said.
He added that food stocks are depleted, and that Boko Haram has also taken the livestock.
"There is a famine looming," he warned.
Corinne Dufka, West Africa director at HRW, said in the report:
"Boko Haram is effectively waging war on the people of northeastern Nigeria at a staggering human cost. Atrocities committed as part of a widespread attack on civilians are crimes against humanity, for which those responsible need to be held to account."
Christian persecution watchdog group Open Doors has also placed Nigeria at the very top of the list of the the 10 countries where followers of Christ face the most violent attacks for their faith.
"The alarming trend of violence against Christians in Nigeria over the past months highlights the lack of religious freedom they have and the daily dangers they face from the Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram and other violent Islamic organizations," said Open Doors USA President/CEO Dr. David Curry in June.
"Going to school, attending church or identifying yourself as a Christian is a very brave decision in Nigeria. It is turning into a bloodbath. Christians in the West must stand in the gap with our prayers and support."