Nigeria schoolgirls video released by Islamist Boko Haram group gives families hope; Nigerian government explores all options to secure safe release
After the release of the first purported video footage of the kidnapped schoolgirls in Nigeria, the government announced that it is weighing all options to secure their release.
A statement isssued by the Nigerian government states that it will "continue to explore all options for the release and safe return of our girls back to their homes."
In addition, the U.S. has deployed surveillance planes in the growing effort to find the abducted girls. According to Fox News, a group of around 30 people have been deployed from the State and Defense departments to help the Nigerian government in aiding with the safe release of the girls.
Although military personnel will not be sent to the rural grounds where the girls are said to be kept, the team consist of experts in counter-terrorism, intelligence gathering, and hostage negotiations.
On May 12, terror group Boko Haram released the first footage of what they claim to be the missing schoolgirls.
Over 300 girls were kidnapped from a Christian school in Chibok, Nigeria on April 15. Most of the girls were Christians, and 53 managed to escape, with 275 girls still unaccounted for.
Residents in the town of Chibok were hoping to watch the video to see if they could identify their daughters.
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Town leader Pogu Bitrus told AP: "There's an atmosphere of hope - hope that these girls are alive, whether they have been forced to convert to Islam or not. We want to be able to say, 'These are our girls.'"
Although the video has not been proven to be authentic, the footage shows that the girls have been converted to Islam and chanting, "Praise be to Allah, the lord of the world."
Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau says, "These girls, these girls you occupy yourselves with... we have indeed liberated them. These girls have become Muslims."
The terror group is demanding the release of Boko Haram prisoners in exchange for the girls.
However, Interior Minister Abba Moro told BBC : "As far as this government is concerned, the option of [the] swap of innocent citizens with people who have taken arms against the country... is not on the table."