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Kidnapped Nigerian girls may have been taken abroad, leader claims

Security walk past burned government secondary school Chibok, where gunmen abducted more than 200 students on Apr. 14. Haruna Umar/AP Photo

A local leader claims some of the more than 200 girls kidnapped from a school in northern Nigeria may have been taken over the borders with Chad and Cameroon.

Pogo Bitrus, leader of a group of community elders in Chibok, where the girls were taken from April 14, told the BBC he has heard reports of gunmen escorting girls into neighbouring countries.

He also raised the possibility some of the girls – most between 16 and 18 years old – may have been sold as brides or forced into slavery.

“Some of them have been taken across Lake Chad and some have been ferried across the border into parts of Cameroon,” he told BBC. “We learned that one of the ‘grooms’ brought his ‘wife’ to a neighbouring town in Cameroon and kept her there.”

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It’s been more than two weeks since gunmen stormed the Chibok Government Secondary School and abducted the girls, who were staying at the school to take a physics exam.

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“The free movement of the kidnappers in huge convoys with their captives for two weeks without being traced by the military which claims to be working diligently to free the girls is unbelievable,” Bitrus told Agence France-Presse.

His claims were not corroborated but add to fears about their fate.

Frustrations with state and federal officials have grown since the girls’ abduction: Only 43 of the 234 girls taken managed to escape their captors.

“May God curse every one of those who has failed to free our girls,” Reuters quoted Enoch Mark – whose daughter and two nieces are among the missing – saying Tuesday.

Fed up with waiting, a group of fathers looked for the girls in the nearby Sambisa forest last week, where it was believed the girls may have been taken to a militant hideout.

READ MORE: Fathers of kidnapped Nigerian girls search for militants’ hideout

No one has claimed responsibility but the blame has been directed at Islamic extremist group Boko Haram.

The name loosely translates from Hausa to mean “Western education is forbidden” or “Western education is a sin.”

Boko Haram formed in 2002. But in the past five years it has become more violent, carrying out a string of abductions and deadly attacks, mostly in northern regions of the country.

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