Some of the girls who managed to escape after being abducted last month from a school in northeastern Nigeria by the group Boko Haram have given harrowing accounts of their ordeal.
Standing alongside their parents, the students described how the gunmen commanded the hundreds of students at the Chibok Government Girls Secondary School to gather outside, before going into a storeroom and taking all the food.
“They then moved all of us to the main gate and brought their cars where they loaded the food they had taken and asked us to get in,” one of the girls recalled.
“The girls that had no shoes on and were not wearing veils were told to go and fetch them as they started to set the school on fire.”
More than 300 girls were abducted on April 15 from their school in Chibok in the country’s remote northeast. Fifty-three escaped and 276 remain captive.
The escaped girls spoke to visiting Borno state officials on May 5. In the video, which was handed out by the Borno State governor’s office, the women gathered at the school cried, as the students spoke of their ordeal.
Another girl recounted how she and her friend decided to run for their lives.
“I told my friend that it is better to be killed than to be taken to a place that we did not know,” she said.
Parents of the girls still in captivity, pleaded for their rescue.
“Now we don’t know if our children are eating, if they are sleeping on the floor, we do not know,” said one distraught mother.
The government’s inability to rescue the girls nearly a month after they were abducted by Boko Haram has sparked worldwide outrage, protests and a social media campaign.
Rallies were held in several North American cities on Saturday to express outrage over the kidnappings.
Protesters held signs and chanted slogans in Atlanta, New York City and Toronto, all calling for the release of the girls and an end to human trafficking worldwide.
As further condemnation of the Nigerian abductions spread, Saudi Arabia’s grand mufti Sheikh Abulaziz al-Sheikh said Boko Haram rebels who kidnapped the schoolgirls had “set up to smear the image of Islam”.
Sheikh said Boko Haram had been “misguided” and should be “shown their wrong path and be made to reject it”.
The US and other countries have sent teams of technical experts to assist the search effort.
Nigeria’s defence headquarters said on Saturday that two divisions of the military were now stationed in the border regions close to Chad, Cameroon and Niger to work with other security agencies.
At least 10 army search teams were trying to track down the girls in the remote far northeast, border guards were on high alert and the air force had so far flown at least 250 sorties.