Parents of kidnapped Nigerian girls hope for safe return

Parents of the abducted Nigerian schoolgirls are still holding out hope for their safe return, two weeks after they were kidnapped.

Unconfirmed reports emerged yesterday that some girls may have been taken to neighbouring countries and sold as brides.

The Government Girls Secondary school in the Chibok area of Borno state was stormed by gunmen believed to be from the separatist group Boko Haram on April 14. Official figures say 129 girls were abducted but the school’s principal said 230 were taken and about 187 are still being held.

The BBC and AFP both spoke to Pogo Bitrus, a Chibok community leader, who said locals had received information that some of the girls have been taken across the border into Chad and Cameroon.

Mr Bitrus said they were then sold as brides to Islamist fighters for 2000 naira ($12.50) each.

UN Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown released a statement announcing he will be meeting with the Nigerian president regarding the abductions.

He said: “I have arranged to meet President Goodluck Jonathan in Abuja next week to express our fears about the fate of the schoolgirls who have been abducted and offer the world's support as he endeavours to secure their safety.

“I will offer support from the international community to the parents of the girls who are still missing. Despite a frantic search for them I understand the fears that the girls will either be used as sex slaves or be murdered.

“We know that Boko Haram have not only taken their terrorist outrages to the heart of Abuja but have been willing to burn and bomb pupils when they are at school.

“I am asking the international community to help the Nigerian army track down the jungle camp where the girls are being held. And in addition to ensuring the right of girls to go to school we must make schools protected places.”

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