Just after the Nigerian government had announced that the more than 200 girls who were kidnapped by Boko Haram in April might be released as early as Monday, reports have come out of Nigeria indicating that Boko Haram just kidnapped at least 25 more girls in a remote northeastern village.
The abductions were confirmed by two parents, John Kwaghe, who witnessed the attack and lost three daughters to the abductors, and Dorathy Tizhe, who lost two daughters. They were quoted by news services as saying the attackers came late last night and forced all the girls to go with them. The abductors then released the older ones, the witnesses said, though it’s not clear how many were released.
This devastating news comes just as the Nigerian government had announced that the girls — whose April abduction had become an international cause celebre, attracting comments from leaders around the world, including Pope Francis, and launching the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls — could be released as early as Monday after the government signed a ceasefire agreement with the Islamists.
But many observers were skeptical of the announcement, particularly after there was just silence from the Boko Haram side. These observers said they wouldn’t believe it until they saw footage of the girls walking into their parents’ arms.
The skepticism was confirmed when gunmen who were likely linked to Boko Haram attacked two villages and a town over the weekend, killing at least eight and kidnapping others.
“It remains to be seen whether this truce will actually materialize, whether it is merely an election ploy for Nigeria’s embattled president, Goodluck Jonathan, and most crucially whether it will bring about the release of numerous captives taken by Boko Haram during the past year,” expert David Cook wrote on CNN after the announcement.
“This is a case when we will actually need to see the girls emerging from their six-month confinement before we can truly believe,” analyst Richard Joseph from the Brookings Institution wrote.