At least 187 school girls kidnapped by Boko Haram – a violent Muslim sect – remain in their captors’ hands, more than a week since they were abducted in a nocturnal raid on a government boarding school in the predominantly Christian town of Chibok, in Nigeria’s Borno state. On the night of April 14, the terrorists raided the school and herded the terrified girls onto waiting lorries in which they were spirited away. The Muslim marauders then set the school alight, as well as looting homes and burning them as well.
Rev. Titus Pona – who chairs the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Borno state, told the Morning Star News that most of the girls were members of the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria. Said Rev. Pona, “We have been praying for the kidnapped girls and hoping that God will intervene. So far, God has answered our prayers as 20 of the girls have escaped from their captors and have returned safely.”
Of the more than 200 girls who were abducted on April 14, 20 were also able to escape. While volunteers and desperate parents left Chibok to search for the girls, they returned once the dangers of entering Boko Haram territory in the Sambisa forest region became evident.
Nigeria’s military reported on April 16 that it had rescued all but eight of the girls, but has adjusted its figures several times since then. On April 21, Chibok school authorities said that 234 girls were still missing.
Besides attacking Christian villages and school, burning and beheading their victims. Boko Haram has been abducting Christian girls and women as part of its effort to impose Islamic law in Nigeria. A video released in March 2014 by the group threatened Nigerian school girls. Women and girls abducted by Boko Haram, as is the case in other Muslim regions such as Pakistan and Egypt, and forced to convert under threat of death and then compelled to marry Muslim men. They are subjected to physical and sexual violence.
Besides the abductions, Boko Haram has claimed the lives of 1,500 people during the first three months of 2014 alone. Besides the attacks by Boko Haram, which is affiliated with the Al Qaeda terrorist organization, Fulani Muslim herdsmen have also attacked Christians who eke out a living as farmers. In Kaduna state, Christians in the Manchok area have been repeatedly targeted over the past two years.
On March 14, around 600 Fulani Muslim gunmen raided the towns of Bondong, Rafin Gora, Hayin Birom and Ung Kura. They killed more than 121 Christians, about half of whom were children.
In an email response to Spero News, Faith McDonnell of the Institute on Religion and Democracy wrote:
"The latest evil action of Boko Haram, kidnapping hundreds of schoolgirls, is yet another proof that Islamist jihad ideology governs their agenda and their goals. Although U.S. government officials have stressed that “extremists” like Boko Haram are reacting to the poverty and marginalization of Muslims in northern Nigeria, Boko Haram’s actions are not those of the impoverished and marginalized. They are the actions of zealots for the cause of establishing a pure Islamic state in Nigeria. And they are the actions of well-funded, confident jihad warriors, financially backed and supported by other terror-creating jihadists such as al Shabab and al Qaeda."
"In a recent statement to the world, Boko Haram leader Abubaker Shegau declared that infidel women were basically fair game to Islamists. He warned that in the near future they would begin to abduct them and sell them in slave markets….Well, he is following through on his actions, the Nigerian government and the U.S. government which recently designated Boko Haram as an Foreign Terrorist Organization had better fight against this evil, and not be handicapped by political correctness."
Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. He is also a freelance translator.