Boko Haram offers to release girls for prisoners

International security summit being held in Paris

The Islamist militant group Boko Haram has said it will release the more than 200 school girls it abducted last month in exchange for prisoners, according to footage seen by French news agency AFP on 12 May.

Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau speaks in the 17-minute video which claims to show around 100 of the 276 missing school girls wearing veils and praying in an undisclosed location. Shekau claimed the girls had converted to Islam and said they would not be freed until all Boko Haram prisoners were released from Nigerian jails.

The news comes a week after the militants accepted resonsibility for kidnapping the girls from a boarding school in Chibok in north-eastern Nigeria, and follows another video in which Shekau threatened to sell them “in the market.”

Under increasing international pressure to locate the missing school girls and deal effectively with Boko Haram, Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan has agreed to attend a security summit in Paris on 17 May.

The leaders of Nigeria's four neighbouring countries Benin, Cameroon, Chad and Niger have been invited to attend, as have representatives of Britain, the EU and the US.

Since their abduction on 14 April, the girls' plight has captured the world's attention and led to Twitter's globally trending hashtag #BringBackOurGirls. The goal of Boko Haram is to carve out an Islamist state in the north of the country and since it began in 2009 it has killed thousands of Nigerians, including more than 1,500 people this year alone.

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