- (Photo: Screen Grab via YouTube/AFP news agency)
The parents of two of the nearly 300 Nigerian schoolgirls recently kidnapped by Boko Haram have identified their daughters in a recent video released by the terrorist group.
According to Dumoma Mpur, the chairman of the parent-teachers association at Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, Nigeria, a mother identified her daughter as one of the girls wearing a full-length hijab and praying in the video that was released Monday.
"The video got parents apprehensive again after watching it but the various steps taken by the governments and the coming of the foreign troops is boosting our spirit, even though I have not seen any one soldier in Chibok yet," Mpur told Reuters by telephone.
Another parent from Chibok, who requested to remain anonymous, told Voice of America on Tuesday that he, too, recognized his 18-year-old daughter in the video, and possibly recognized his neighbor's daughter as well.
The video, which was shown to parents in Chibok on Monday, was recorded by members of the extreme Islamist group Boko Haram. The video shows the nearly 300 schoolgirls that were kidnapped from Chibok almost one month ago.
In the video, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shakau requests that the Nigerian government exchange some of its prisoners for the kidnapped girls. "It is now four years or five years that you arrested our brethren and they are still in your prison. You are doing many things to them and now you are talking about these girls? We will never release them until after you release our brethren."
"I swear to almighty Allah, you will not see them again until you release our brothers that you have captured," he added.
The video shows the girls dressed in blue and gray hijabs sitting in a rural area and chanting a simple Islamic prayer. An earlier video released by Boko Haram threatened to sell the girls into human slavery, and the young women, the majority of who are Christian, were reportedly forced to convert to Islam.
According to BBC News, Nigeria's cabinet minister Tanimu Turaki said Tuesday that if Shekau was serious about his claims in the video, he should send representatives to talk with government officials to possibly work out a prisoner exchange. Turaki, who was selected by President Goodluck Jonathan to reach an agreement with Boko Haram, told BBC that "dialogue is a key option" in bringing the girls home, and that "an issue of this nature can be resolved outside of violence."
Also on Tuesday, both the U.S. and the U.K. deployed surveillance planes to fly over remote forested areas of northeastern Nigeria in hopes of finding the massive group of schoolgirls, who many believe are being hidden in the dense Sambisa forest.
Both countries have also sent intelligence officials to the African country to help in deciphering aerial surveillance footage. China, Israel, and France are also helping to rescue the kidnapped schoolgirls.