(Photo: Screen grab via YouTube/AFP News Agency)
In a haunting new video reportedly released by Boko Haram Monday, Abubakar Shekau, leader of the Nigerian Islamist group which abducted nearly 300 schoolgirls from the village of Chibok last month, says they have no plans to release the girls until arrested members of their group have been freed.
"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," said Shekau in a clip from the video posted to YouTube by AFP news agency.
A Reuters report noted that the full video is about 17 minutes long and was recorded in an undisclosed location. It shows about 100 girls dressed in full black and gray hijabs.
The girls are also chanting words, which, according to CNN, translate to: "Praise be to Allah, the lord of the world."
Shekau says they are the kidnapped schoolgirls and boasts that they have now been liberated with Muslim conversions.
"These girls you occupy yourselves with their affair. We have indeed liberated them. We have indeed liberated them," said Shekau. "Do you know we have liberated them? These girls have become Muslims. They are Muslims."
The Boko Haram militants, who are fighting for an Islamist state, attacked a secondary school on the night of April 14 where the schoolgirls were taking exams and snatched 276 of them. A number of the girls managed to escape during the abduction but about 200 of them are still missing. According to Nigerian evangelist Matthew Owojaiye of the Old Time Revival Hour Church in Kaduna, most of the girls are Christians.
Earlier this month, Shekau had threatened to sell the girls "in the market" sparking international outrage.