Boko Haram claims kidnapped schoolgirls 'married off'



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14/11/01  Kano (Nigeria) - Boko Haram has claimed that the 219 schoolgirls it kidnapped more than six months ago have converted to Islam and been married off shocking their families but confirming suspicions about a supposed deal for their release and a wider ceasefire. The Islamist group s leader, Abubakar Shekau, made the claim in a new video obtained by AFP on Friday in which he also denied government assertions of an agreement to end hostilities and peace talks. Shekau also claimed responsibility for the abduction of a German national, who was seized from his home in the northeastern state of Adamawa on July 16. The mention of the girls, who were abducted from the remote northeastern town of Chibok in Borno state on April 14, is the first by Shekau since May 5, when about 100 of the teenagers were shown on camera. Then, the girls were seen wearing the hijab and reciting verses from the Koran. The militant leader said then that not all had converted. A screengrab from a Boko Haram video allegedly shows missing schoolgirls being filmed by an unidentified man in an undisclosed location in May 2014 But he indicated that all of those held had now become Muslims and married, chiming with testimony from former hostages who say forced marriage and conversion is commonplace in Boko Haram camps. "Don t you know the over 200 Chibok schoolgirls have converted to Islam? They have now memorised two chapters of the Koran," he said.

Shekau previously threatened to sell the girls as slave brides and also suggested he would be prepared to release them in exchange for Boko Haram prisoners.

In the latest message, he said while laughing: "We have married them off. They are in their marital homes."