Nigerian rally over abducted girls disrupted

Crowd said to be organised by government disrupts protest urging Abuja to do more to free 219 girls kidnapped in April.

    Nigerians have held demonstrations for weeks in Abuja, calling for the release of the girls [AP]
    Nigerians have held demonstrations for weeks in Abuja, calling for the release of the girls [AP]

    Hundreds of people have disrupted a rally calling on Nigeria's leadership to do more to rescue more than 200 girls kidnapped by the armed group Boko Haram.

    Protesters said the group which disrupted their rally in Abuja on Wednesday had been organised by the government and was made up mostly of women from rural areas.

    The incident came days after officials said that the government had located the abducted girls, but ruled out a rescue by force for fear of endangering them.

    The leader of the protest, Obiageli Ezekwesili, said at least 30 buses had brought people from rural areas to disrupt the rally.

    "They came and they beat the women, they used the chairs, broke the chairs, they broke bottles, they did all kinds of things over the heads of very, very civil women and men," she said.

    RELATED: Limited choices for women in Nigeria's north

    Chief of Defence Staff Air Marshal Alex Badeh said on Tuesday the military knew where the abducted girls were, but the United States said it had no information to support Nigeria's claim, and European officials also voiced scepticism about the statement.

    Doyin Okupe, a senior advisor on public affairs to Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan, defended Abuja's statement, saying the government "has known the location of the kidnapped girls for quite a while now", but is acting with caution for the sake of the abductees' safety.

    "The girls' lives are at stake and we can not afford to release information frivolously and irresponsibly," he told Al Jazeera.

    He also called on foreign governments to help by providing Abuja with special equipment and the "know-how" in the rescue effort. 

    A total of 276 girls were abducted from the town of Chiboke on April 14. Dozens managed to escape, leaving the number of girls still held at 219.

    Boko Haram, which translates roughlyas "Western education is sin", has ramped up attacks in northern Nigeria in recent months in its fight to create an Islamic state.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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