Joy Bishara and Lydia Pogu, Two Escaped Boko Haram Abductees, Graduate From High School in VA, Head to Southeastern University

(photo via instagram.com)

by Taryn Finley via huffpost.com

Two of the nearly 300 Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram in 2014 are telling their story. Joy Bishara, 20, and Lydia Pogu, 19, are among the 57 girls who were able to escape from the terrorist group. The duo gave People Magazine a detailed account of horrors they faced when the gunmen invaded their school in Chibok, Nigeria, and the events that followed.

The girls were sleeping when the invasion occurred. They woke to the sounds of gunshots and bombs. Pogu told People that men in uniforms stormed into their dorm and told them they were officers who were there to protect them. But the girls said they knew they weren’t real officers based on the way they described themselves.

“We were all crying and screaming. They told us to keep quiet or they’re going to kill us. So they start to shoot their guns up on top of us, making us quiet. All of us were scared. We were just holding each other,” Bishara said. “They asked us to follow them, we should go with them. When we tried going with them, some of us start running … then they went and put us all back together and said, ‘OK, you all have to cooperate or else we are going to just shoot any girl who just followed a different direction that we didn’t point.”

She said they gave the girls an ultimatum: run away and die or get on a truck and leave with them. Once the truck drove away with the girls on it, it created clouds of dust, making it difficult to see behind the truck. Girls began jumping from the truck and running away in different directions. Bishara and two other girls found each other in the bush and were able to stop a motorcyclist, who brought them back to Chibok.

Bishara and Pogu were able to return back to their families. In August of the same year, the duo and several other girls who escaped moved to the United States to complete school. With the help of a Christian nonprofit and a Nigerian activist group, they were able to attend boarding school in Virginia. Bishara and Pogu transferred their senior year and recently graduated from Canyonville Christian Academy. Both gave speeches at the ceremony. They will be attending Southeastern University in Florida in the fall and have started a GoFundMe to help with their expenses.

In April 2014, Boko Haram abducted as many as 276 schoolgirls from Chibok. The girls were subjected to rape, torture, starvation and forced marriages. They were also forced to join the group’s army. This sparked the #BringBackOurGirls campaign online and caught the attention of notable figures, including former first lady Michelle Obama.

To read more, go to: 2 Escaped Boko Haram Victims Graduate From High School | HuffPost

Nigerian Government Negotiates Release of 82 Chibok Girls From Boko Haram

(photo via cnn.com)

Lagos, Nigeria – Eighty-two Chibok schoolgirls have been released after successful negotiations between the terrorist group Boko Haram and the Nigerian government, the Nigerian President’s office said.

A government official close to the negotiations told CNN the freed girls are in military custody in Banki, a town in northeast Nigeria. They will be transferred to the capital, Abuja, where they will have medical checks and be reunited with their families. They are believed to be among the 276 girls, ages 16 to 18, forced from their beds by Boko Haram militants in the middle of the night in April 2014.

The kidnapping from a boarding school in the town of Chibok sparked global outrage and the social media movement #BringBackOurGirls.”I am very, very excited with this development. I cannot even sleep tonight,” said Yana Galang, whose daughter, Rifkatu, was among the girls kidnapped. Galang said they don’t yet know who has been released, “but we’re very happy that many have been freed.” “I hope and pray that my daughter is among these released girls,” she added.

Some Boko Haram suspects being held by the Nigerian government were released as part of the negotiations, President Muhammadu Buhari‘s office said Saturday. “The President has repeatedly expressed his total commitment towards ensuring the safe return of the #ChibokGirls, and all other Boko Haram captives,” Buhari’s office said in a statement.Buhari will meet with the girls in Abuja on Sunday, his office said.

To read full article, go to: 82 Chibok girls released – CNN.com

Nigerian Army Frees 71, Mostly Women & Children, From Boko Haram

(photo: ibtimes.com)

(photo: ibtimes.com)

The ongoing clash between Nigeria‘s armed forces and the Islamist militants Boko Haram has been largely a one-sided affair with the terrorist group seemingly taking the upper hand. Earlier Thursday, the Nigerian Army announced a victory of sorts after reportedly freeing 59 women and children that were held by the heavily armed insurgents.

Nigerian publication The Sun reported from the city of Maiduguri, the largest in Borno State. The state has been a staging ground for some of Boko Haram’s most vicious attacks and the group has repelled much of the Nigerian military’s offensive maneuvers. Their most recent raid, however, yielded favorable results if reports hold true.

From The Sun:

The military has rescued another 59 hostages from Boko Haram hide-outs in Borno State during raids in what appeared like a renewed vigour to end insurgency in the northeast.

Authorities said troops raided two camps at Kashinbiri and Wallmeri, two remote communities in Konduga Local Government in the central part of the state. The area is also few kilometres to SambiSa, a major Boko Haram camp.

A Deputy Director, Army Public Relations and spokesman, 7 Division, Nigerian Army, Colonel Tukur Gusau, said the hostages include 25 children, 29 women and five elderly men.

“Troops of 151 Task Force Battalion conducted operations on Kashinbiri and Wallmeri Boko Haram terrorists camps on Wednesday. During the raids, quite a number of the terrorists were killed, a Landrover and a tipper were recovered. The troops also rescued 59 civilians that were held captive by the terrorist, they are 25 children, 29 women and five elderly men. The camps have been cleared by the troops,” he said at a news briefing in Maiduguri yesterday.

The rescue of the 59 individuals brings the army’s tally this week to 71. It was reported by the Associated Press that 12 women and girls were freed after forces stormed the city of Kilakisa, which sits 55 miles southwest of Maiduguri.

The Nigerian military said it freed hundreds back in March and seized many of the cities held by Boko Haram in the northeastern part of the country. The rebels have increased their number of attacks back at the military, yet with little in the way of considerable gain according to recent reports.

article by D.L. Chandler via newsone.com

Nigeria: 160 More Women, Children Rescued from Boko Haram Camp

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Kano, Nigeria (CNN)  Nigerian troops rescued an additional 160 women and children from Boko Haram within days after they found hundreds of other hostages, the military said Thursday. “We are still working to verify the actual number of the rescued hostages, but I can say they include around 60 women and 100 children,” said army spokesman Sani Usman.

Troops are moving into other parts of the forest and have destroyed nine militant camps, the spokesman said. “Many of those kidnapped have undergone psychological trauma and indoctrination,” he said.

Second rescue in a week

The rescue announced Thursday came the same week the military said it rescued another group of hostages in a different operation in the same forest. Shortly after troops saved 200 girls and 93 women Tuesday, Usman said they were not the Chibok girls whose abduction last year sparked worldwide outrage.  It was not immediately clear if any of those rescued in the most recent operation are among the Chibok girls.

That mass abduction of more than 200 girls in April 2014 from a school in the northeastern Nigerian town of Chibok sparked a social media movement, #BringBackOurGirls. There’s been no sign of them since. Last year, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau not only bragged about abducting the girls, but said he would “sell them in the market” like slaves.

Usman said the 160 figure for the latest batch of rescues is “an estimation, because more are coming in as operations continue.”

As to their backstories, the Nigerian army spokesman added, “Some of them are psychologically disturbed and giving contrary information due to trauma, so we can’t say where they’re from yet.”

Those rescued Tuesday were at least initially in “operational areas and not yet cleared for accessibility by health workers,” according to Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency. Officials have sent basic food and sanitary supplies, said agency spokesman Manzo Ezekiel.  Continue reading

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Offers Law Enforcement Help For Kidnapped Nigerian Girls

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#BringBackOurGirls Protest in Nigeria 5/2014

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is offering law enforcement assistance to help rescue more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by the Islamist militant group Boko Haram, a senior Justice Department source told The Huffington Post on Monday.

Holder has also ordered an intelligence assessment of Boko Haram, which the United States designated as a terrorist organization in November 2013. The group, whose name means “Western education is sin,” receives training from al Qaeda and its affiliates.

“Let me be clear,” Secretary of State John Kerry said Saturday during a trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo. “The kidnapping of hundreds of children by Boko Haram is an unconscionable crime, and we will do everything possible to support the Nigerian government to return these young women to their homes.”

On April 14, members of Boko Haram invaded a boarding school in Nigeria, pulled 276 girls from their beds and packed them into trucks. At least 53 girls have escaped, while the rest are allegedly being sold as brides to local militants for $12, according to the girls’ relatives.

Abubakar Shekau, a man claiming to be the leader of Boko Haram, took credit for the kidnapping in a video obtained Monday by Agence France-Press and said he is selling the girls as wives to prevent them from receiving a Western education.

“I abducted your girls. I will sell them in the market, by Allah,” Shekau said, according to a CNN translation. “There is a market for selling humans. Allah says I should sell. He commands me to sell. I will sell women.”

Shekau added, “Girls, you should go and get married.”

The Nigerian government claims to be handling the situation, but weeks after the kidnapping, Nigerian officials appear to be no closer to finding the missing girls. The government’s perceived ineptitude has inspired international protests and the globally trending Twitter hashtag #BringBackOurGirls.

“Access to education is a basic right & an unconscionable reason to target innocent girls,” former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wrote Sunday on Twitter. “We must stand up to terrorism. #BringBackOurGirls.”

The State Department’s annual report on global terrorism, released last week, found that Boko Haram “receives the bulk of its funding from bank robberies and related criminal activities, including extortion and kidnapping for ransoms.” The group has killed thousands of people in Nigeria since 2009, according to the report.

It is unclear whether Nigeria will accept Holder’s offer of help. CNN reported that Nigeria has not yet asked for help from the United States in finding the girls, possibly because they do not want “visible American forces in their country.”

article by Laura Bassett via huffingtonpost.com