Nigeria 'rejects Boko Haram prisoner exchange offer' after video message appears to show kidnapped schoolgirls for first time

Extremist group’s leader reportedly says the girls have been forced to convert to Islam while in captivity

The Nigerian government has reportedly rejected an offer from the militant group Boko Haram to release more than 200 kidnapped schoolgirls in exchange for prisoners.

Earlier today the terrorist group released a new video message in which they purported to show some of the hundreds of girls they have captured from a town in the north-east of the country.

Abubakar Shekau, the leader of the militant group, also said that the girls had been converted to Islam while in captivity, which he referred to as a "liberation".

The 17-minute video, obtained by the news agency Agence France-Presse (AFP), showed around 100 girls wearing full veils and reportedly praying in an undisclosed location.

In a separate part of the video, Shekau said that the girls would remain captive until the Nigerian government releases all imprisoned Boko Haram militants.

When asked if the government would reject any offer of a deal in exchange for prisoners, interior minister Abba Moro told AFP: "Of Course."

He said: "The issue in question is not about Boko Haram giving conditions."

The video has raised further concerns that the girls have now been split up into a number of groups across a remote stretch of Nigeria, as well as fears some may have been smuggled out of the country altogether.

The Nigerian government has previously said it will not "pay a ransom" to get the girls back, and on Thursday the president, Goodluck Jonathan, vowed that he would make the incident "the beginning of the end" of terrorism in the country.

Three girls were reported to have appeared individually in the videos, with one of them saying that they had not been harmed by their captors.

Two girls reportedly said they were Christian and have converted to Islam and the third said she is a Muslim.

Speaking to Sky News earlier, the father of one of the kidnapped girls said he did not want the government to accept Boko Haram's offer of an exchange for prisoners.

"It's not right," he said. "They'll do it again."

Graphic shows the regions of Nigeria in which the militant group Boko Haram is active Graphic shows the regions of Nigeria in which the militant group Boko Haram is active Click here to see larger version of graphic

Though reports vary on the exact number of schoolgirls taken by Boko Haram initially, it is believed that 276 remain missing from the more than 300 kidnapped on 14 April from Chibok in the state of Borno, which has a large Christian community.

A number of the girls were able to break free from the group, and speaking yesterday one of them said more would have escaped had they not feared being shot by their captors.

The government’s failure to rescue the remaining girls has attracted mounting outrage. After appearing to ignore earlier offers, last week Mr Jonathan accepted international help.

A screengrab from the video released by Boko Haram shows a man claiming to be their leader, Abubakar Shekau (AFP) A screengrab from the video released by Boko Haram shows a man claiming to be their leader, Abubakar Shekau (AFP) The team expected in Nigeria to assist in search and rescue efforts will include US hostage negotiators, counter-terror experts and intelligence agents from Britain, France, China and Spain. Israel also offered assistance on Sunday.

Around the world, the effort to rescue the captives has been fuelled by a social media campaign, under the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls. Yesterday it was joined by the Prime Minister, David Cameron, who later came in for criticism that there were more practical things he could do to help.

Responding to the video that emerged today, Downing Street condemned it as showing "the horror and the barbarity of the actions in the kidnapping of these girls".

A spokesperson for Mr Cameron said: "It underlines the importance of working with and in support of the Nigerian authorities and Nigerian people in terms of trying to bring about the release of the kidnapped girls."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: IT Sales Consultant

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...

Recruitment Genius: Works Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Hire Manager - Tool Hire

£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is seeking someone w...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent
Markus Persson: If being that rich is so bad, why not just give it all away?

That's a bit rich

The billionaire inventor of computer game Minecraft says he is bored, lonely and isolated by his vast wealth. If it’s that bad, says Simon Kelner, why not just give it all away?
Euro 2016: Chris Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Wales last qualified for major tournament in 1958 but after several near misses the current crop can book place at Euro 2016 and end all the indifference
Rugby World Cup 2015: The tournament's forgotten XV

Forgotten XV of the rugby World Cup

Now the squads are out, Chris Hewett picks a side of stars who missed the cut
A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

Britain's Atlantis

Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

David Starkey's assessment
Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

'An enormous privilege and adventure'

Oliver Sacks writing about his life
'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago