Boko Haram leader says kidnapped schoolgirls were 'married off'

Abubakar Shekau dismisses chances kidnapped schoolgirls could be released, denies cease-fire

Boko Haram's leader, Abubakar Shekau, said the 219 schoolgirls kidnapped from the remote town of Chibok in Nigeria's northeast in April have converted to Islam and been married off. He also denied reports that Boko Haram had agreed to a cease-fire with the Nigerian government, and ruled out future talks.

"Don't you know the over 200 Chibok schoolgirls have converted to Islam? They have now memorized two chapters of the Koran," Shekau said in a video obtained by Agence France-Presse on Friday.

"We have married them off. They are in their marital homes," he added.

In a previous statement, Shekau had threatened to sell the girls as slave brides and also suggested that he would be prepared to release them in exchange for Boko Haram prisoners.

In the new video, Shekau also denied that Boko Haram had agreed to a cease-fire, describing the Nigerian government’s declaration that the group had as a “lie.”

The video comes after a surprise Nigerian government announcement on Oct. 17 that a peace deal had been reached with the group. A senior presidential aide to President Goodluck Jonathan also said that an agreement had been reached to free the schoolgirls, whose abduction sparked a global campaign for their release.

There was immediate skepticism about both claims because of previous assertions of cease-fires and the identity of the purported Boko Haram envoy at the supposed talks, Danladi Ahmadu.

Violence and fresh kidnappings have continued unabated since the announcement, including a triple bombing of a bus station in the northern city of Gombe on Friday that killed at least eight people.

Nigeria's government maintains that talks are ongoing in the Chadian capital, Ndjamena.

But Shekau, dressed in military fatigues and boots with a black turban, and flanked by 15 armed fighters, said: "We have not made cease-fire with anyone."

"We did not negotiate with anyone... It's a lie. It's a lie. We will not negotiate. What is our business with negotiation? Allah said we should not."

He also said he did not know Danladi.

Shekau added that the group was holding a German national, though he did not name the hostage.

There was no indication of when or where the video was shot, but it was obtained through the same channels as previous communications from the group.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch said in a report this week that Boko Haram was holding upwards of 500 women and young girls and that forced marriage was commonplace in the group's camps.

Wire services


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