Video demanding ransom for hundreds of kidnapped Nigeria schoolboys released on social media
Editor's note: Officials said on Thursday that hundreds of kidnapped schoolboys in Nigeria have been released. Read the latest update here. Our original story appears below.
A video circulating on social media purportedly shows Boko Haram with some of the hundreds of schoolboys kidnapped last week in northwest Nigeria. The Islamist militant group claimed credit this week for the Friday assault on the Government Science Secondary School in Kankara, Katsina State.
Poorly filmed and often out of focus, the distressing video shows a group of boys in a forest pleading with the Nigerian government to respond to the demands of the kidnappers and not to raid their camp. The video warns that 500 men are hiding in the Zamfara forest, where the boys had been taken by their captors.
At one point, the voice of the child speaking to the camera in English and Hausa appears to break and other, younger children begin to cry. "Please, you have to dissolve any gang of vigilantes, close any kind of schools, excluding Islamiyyah (Islamic Schools). All the troops who have come here to help us, please send them back," the boy said.
The video is believed genuine but CBS News cannot independently verify the authenticity of the footage, the identity of the boys on camera or who released it.
"We have been caught by the gangs of Abu Shekau, some of us were killed," the boy said in the clip. A voice behind the camera is heard telling the pupil what to say.
A spokesman for Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has also not responded to queries about the video.
The group also claimed to be behind the 2014 kidnapping of more than 200 school girls in Chibok in Borno state. The mostly Christian students, some of whom subsequently escaped or were rescued by the Nigerian government, reported being forced to convert, beaten and forced to marry militants, and the incident sparked international condemnation.
The group had previously shown no proof it was responsible for last week's mass kidnapping. If its claims are true, Boko Haram's involvement in northwestern Katsina state marks a geographical expansion in its activities.
The video was released after an apparent failed rescue mission to bring the boys home. Reports on Wednesday quoted a local official saying that as many as 17 kidnapped students were rescued the day before and two pupils died in the operation. Katsina State's Governor Aminu Masari told a local radio station he had ordered an operation to be carried out to liberate the students.
U.S. State Department spokesman Cale Brown condemned the kidnapping Thursday, offering sympathy to the families of the missing students and the security guard killed in the attack.
"School should be a safe place where children can learn and thrive," said Brown. "The boys must be returned to their families immediately and those responsible for this attack held accountable to the full extent of the law."
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