Africa

Nigeria willing to negotiate over abducted girls

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The Nigerian government says it is willing to negotiate over the lives of more than 200 schoolgirls abducted by the members of the Boko Haram Takfiri group.

On Tuesday, the special duties minister, Taminu Turaki, said the government was ready to hold talks with the militants about the kidnapped schoolgirls.

In mid-April, Boko Haram committed mass abduction of teenage schoolgirls from Chibok school in northeastern Borno state, of whom 276 remain missing.

“Nigeria has always been willing to dialogue with the insurgents. We are willing to carry that dialogue on any issue, including the girls kidnapped in Chibok, because certainly we are not going to say that (the abduction) is not an issue,” Turaki said.

Meanwhile, Kashim Shettima, the governor of Borno state, confirmed that all the girls seen in the latest video released by Boko Haram on Monday were students from Chibok.

“All the girls in that video were identified to be students of the Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok,” Shettima said in the capital Abuja following a special viewing of the footage organized for the girls’ parents.

The leader of the Chibok community in the capital, Tsambido Hosea, said earlier that the video had generated conflicting emotions among the parents.

“I called Chibok and spoke with some of them (the parents)… Some are saying they are happy because they have seen their daughters. Some have their grief increased. So, there is a mixed reaction,” Hosea said.

Due to the “daunting” situation in northeastern Nigeria, President Goodluck Jonathan requested a six-month extension to the state of emergency declared in the three northeastern states of Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa.

Boko Haram — whose name means “Western education is forbidden” — says its goal is to overthrow the Nigerian government.

The group has claimed responsibility for a number of deadly gun and bomb attacks in various parts of Nigeria since 2009.

Over the past four years, violence in the north of Africa’s most populous country has claimed the lives of 3,600 people, including killings by the security forces.

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