Fathers of kidnapped Nigerian girls search for militants’ hideout

Watch above: Parents of kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls are taking matters into their own hands, to try to find their daughters. Mike Drolet reports.

More than 200 girls remain missing in Nigeria, a week after an extremist group attacked a school and kidnapped them.

As many as 43 girls have turned up safe after escaping from their captors in the days after militants raided the government-run boarding school in the northeast town of Chibok.

But, desperate parents of the missing are now taking matters into their own hands. A group of fathers headed into the nearby Sambisa Forest, where insurgents are rumoured to be hiding out, in hopes of saving their daughters.

READ MORE: Nigerians marked Easter with heightened security, mourning

The attack has been blamed on a group behind a long series of terrorist attacks in Nigeria – Boko Haram.

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Boko Haram formed in 2002, but since it became a Jihadist group five years ago it has carried out a string of abductions and deadly attacks, mostly in northern regions of the country.

According to The Associated Press, there have been at least 1,500 deaths as a result of Boko Haram-related violence this year alone. It’s estimated Boko Haram has killed as many as 10,000 people since 2002.*

The group has attacked military and police facilities, as well as churches and Christian areas.

Just a day before the assault on the school in Chibok, in Borno state, the group bombed a bus station in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja. The attack killed more than 70 people.

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But the kidnapping, which took place in the middle of the night on Apr. 15, is unprecedented and it indicates government efforts to quell the insurgency — including putting three states under a strict state of emergency — are failing.

The violent group, made up of mostly of disenfranchised young men, is trying to “destabilize” the oil-rich nation, said security expert Michel Juneau-Katsuya. He said the group knows the government is “powerless” to stop their attacks.

He said northeastern Nigeria is “one of the most dangerous places in the world to be “at the moment.”

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“[Their] attacks are extremely savage and can come at anytime,” said Juneau-Katsuya, a former senior intelligence officer with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS).

He said the fate of the kidnapped girls all depends on what Boko Haram wants to achieve from the assault.

The militants could seek ransom money for the captive girls, but they could just as easily do something much more sinister.

“They will have no hesitation to kill them and display their bodies if necessary,” Juneau-Katsuya said.

Boko Haram is “selective in their targets,” he said: they’re going after Christians.

Boko Haram wants the country to be governed by Islamic Sharia law and is staunchly anti-Western, when it comes to governance, education, social activity and, of course, religion.

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The name loosely translates from the Hausa language to mean “Western education is forbidden” or Western education is a sin”: “Boko is a term that has come to signify the “Western,” while “Haram” means “forbidden by Islamic law”

“Everyone that calls himself a Muslim must stop obeying the constitution, must abandon democracy, must stay away from Western education,” Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau said in a video released Saturday.

According to The Associated Press, Shekau claimed responsibility for the Abuja bus station attack, but did not mention the Chibok abductions.

With files from Global’s Mike Drolet and The Associated Press

CLARIFICATION: An earlier version of this post state it’s estimated Boko Haram has killed as many as 10,000 people since 2009. That estimate is the number of people Boko Haram is believed to have killed since 2002.

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