Boko Haram claims responsibility for schoolgirl abduction

international outrage grows

The Islamist militia group Boko Haram says it is responsible for last month's abduction of over 200 teenage girls from a boarding school in Chibok in the north-eastern Nigerian state of Borno.

A video released to Nigerian news agencies on 6 May purportedly shows the Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau claiming responsibility for the kidnapping, referring to the girls as slaves and threatening to “sell them in the market.”

During the almost hour-long video the Islamist leader also denounced western education (Boko Haram translates as "Western education is sinful"), and said he had been instructed by Allah to sell the abducted girls. It is the first time that Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for the 14 April kidnapping of up to 276 girls, according to some counts.

Growing international coverage of the abduction has heaped pressure on the Nigerian government which so far has been unable to rescue the girls, despite President Goodluck Jonathan's recent vow, "Wherever these girls are, we'll get them out."

The abduction, and Nigeria's failure to locate the girls, has led to the US offering intelligence and information sharing to the Nigerian authorities. The offer from Washinton follows the release of the Boko Haram video which the US state department says "does appear legitimate."

The kidnappings have resulted in mass social media campaigns around the world, particularly Twitter's globally trending hashtag #BringBackOurGirls which was endorsed by former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton.

In Nigeria, a country where Boko Haram's terrorist attacks have already claimed thousands of live, the kidnappings has generated a rare anti-government protest movement.

The abduction has proved hugely embarrassing for the Nigerian government, and comes ahead of its first hosting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) for Africa which runs from 7-9 May in the capital Abuja. In preparation for the three-day international conference, security forces are undertaking a major crackdown in Abuja where two bomb attacks in the last three weeks have killed nearly 100 people. Islamist militants are blamed for the bombings.