Boko Haram released a video Monday, showing abducted Nigerian school girls, strewn on the ground, wearing Muslim clothing and reciting verses from the Quran. The girls were kidnapped sometime in the early morning hours of April 15 during an attack on Chibok Town in Borno state, Nigeria, when armed men posing as soldiers and dressed in military fatigues, entered the town around 11:45 PM local time on April 14 and engaged the security forces stationed on the town in a firefight, according to monitored media reports.
As the battle rages on in the early hours of April 15, the security forces fled as they were overwhelmed in numbers and ammunitions consequently, enabling Boko Haram fighters (confirmed as the attackers) to advanced to the Government Girls Secondary School – which also doubles as a boarding school, and abducted at least 250 schoolgirls, Amnesty International stated in a release on Friday.
On a separate part of the released video, a man reported to be the head of Boko Haram insinuated to Nigeria authorities to engage him in negotiations for the release of the girls; when he hinted at using the kidnapped girls – as a bargaining chip – for his comrades he claimed, are locked up in Nigerian jails.
In a related incident, Amnesty International has slammed the Nigeria security forces Friday, claiming that: they were made aware of an imminent attack by Boko Haram on Chibok town, hours before the onslaught, that lead to the kidnapping of the school girls from their boarding school.
Amnesty International, citing credible military and civilian sources – who spoke anonymously for fear of their safety – explained that security forces were warned more than four hours in advance of the looming attack; but took minimal actions to thwart it.
“The fact that Nigerian security forces knew about Boko Haram’s impending raid, but failed to take the immediate action needed to stop it, will only amplify the national and international outcry at this horrific crime.
“It amounts to a gross dereliction of Nigeria’s duty to protect civilians, who remain sitting ducks for such attacks. The Nigerian leadership must now use all lawful means at their disposal to secure the girls’ safe release and ensure nothing like this can happen again,” Netsanet Belay, Amnesty International’s Africa Director, Research and Advocacy, said in a press release.
After interviewing sources and independently confirming their stories, Amnesty International said that on April 14, shortly after 7:00 PM local time – about four hours before the town assault by Boko Haram – Nigeria’s military commands in Maiduguri and Damboa 130 and 36.5 kilometers respectively, were repeatedly notified of the imminent threat by security and local officials.
Because of reported ill-equipped nature of the security forces and the fear to confront a rather superiorly equipped Boko Haram fighters, soldiers were not mustered when they received the warnings and reinforcements wasn’t sent that night, according to the release.
Chibok town itself had an estimated 17 military personnel and local police officers who tried to deter the attack but were no match for the well-equipped Boko Haram assault fighters, and consequently had to retreat.
Locally mobilised civilian patrol groups, during the early evening hours of April 14, spotted a large number of armed men mounted on motorbikes, passing through their village claiming to be headed to Chibok. The civilian patrols immediately made series of phone calls – alerting local and senior military commanders – and also the Governor of the area on their sightings.
“At around 10:00 PM on 14 April, I called [several] security officers to inform them about earlier information I had received from the vigilantes in Gagilam village. They had told us that strange people had arrived in their village that evening on motorbikes and they said they were heading to Chibok. I made several other calls, including to Maiduguri. I was promised by the security people that reinforcement were on their way,” a local resident, initially contacted by the civilian patrol groups, told Amnesty International.
Herdsmen also contacted a second local official; reporting of armed men on motorbikes asking for the location of the Girls Government Secondary School in Chibok town.
The rights group also cited two unnamed Nigeria military sources, who confirmed that the Nigerian military was very much aware of the planned attack, before the alert calls made out by the locals.
“There’s a lot of frustration, exhaustion and fatigue among officers and [troops] based in the hotspots…many soldiers are afraid to go to the battle fronts,” one of the military sources reportedly told Amnesty International
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