Kidnapped schoolgirls have been 'married off' claims Boko Haram leader

More than 200 girls have 'converted to Islam' and are 'married' to fighters

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The Independent Online

More than 200 girls kidnapped by Boko Haram have been “married off” to its fighters, according to one of the Nigerian terror group’s leaders.

In a video released on Friday, a man claiming to be Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau - thought killed a year ago - said the girls had converted to Islam and were now “in their marital homes”.

His comments have thrown negotiations over the girl’s release, reportedly taking place in neighbouring Chad, into disarray.

Boko Haram militants kidnapped 276 girls from a secondary school in Chibok, northeast Nigeria, in April. Although dozens managed to escape early on, 219 remain missing.

Shekau, said to have been laughing as he spoke on film, said: "The issue of the girls is long forgotten because I have long ago married them off. In this war, there is no going back.”

He also denied there was a ceasefire between the militant group, with a name that means “western education is a sin”, and the Nigerian government.

Shekau said the group was holding a teacher from Germany hostage who had been kidnapped in the north eastern city of Gombe in July.

In recent months the group has made regular attacks on targets in the country and last week seized control of Mubi, the home town of Nigeria's defence chief, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh.

It was Mr Badeh who announced the ceasefire.

The girls’ kidnapping sparked international outrage and saw a global campaign for their release, backed by a number of famous faces.

Additional reporting by Reuters and Associated Press.