— A Nigerian state governor has announced that all of the girls seen in a video released Monday by Boko Haram are students of the school attacked last month by the Islamist militant group.
Kashim Shettima, governor of Borno state, said 54 of the roughly 100 girls shown in the video have been identified by name and all have been confirmed as students of the Government Girls Secondary School in the town of Chibok. He spoke Tuesday after organizing a screening for the community.
In an interview with VOA’s Hausa Service, a man said he recognized his 18-year-old daughter in the video. A woman said her husband had identified their 17-year-old daughter, an aspiring doctor.
In a separate interview with VOA's English to Africa Service, a man who identified himself only as "Samuel" said he recognized two of his nieces on the video.
"I saw them yesterday [Monday] and I was kind of crying and I have been crying every day whenever I remember them because they were staying together in the same house,” Samuel said.
Boko Haram released the 17-minute video showing about 100 girls dressed in black and gray full-length hijabs, all sitting in an undisclosed rural area. They are among some 300 girls kidnapped by Boko Haram in mid-April.
Some of the girls managed to escape but 276 remain missing.
On Tuesday, a Nigerian minister, Tanimu Turaki, said the government was open to holding talks with Boko Haram. The Islamist militant group, Boko Haram, fighting to establish a strict Islamic state in Muslim-majority northern Nigeria, is blamed for thousands of deaths in bombing and shooting attacks during the past five years.
In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the U.S. is supporting Nigeria in its efforts to find the girls.
"Our interdisciplinary team, the entire team, is in place on the ground at the embassy to provide military and law enforcement assistance as well as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance support,” Psaki said. “We have provided commercial satellite imagery and are flying manned intelligence and surveillance aircraft over Nigeria, with the government's permission."
Boko Haram video
In the video, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau says the girls will not be released until the group's imprisoned fighters are freed in Nigeria. He previously has threatened to sell the girls on the human-trafficking market.
A Nigerian ministers' group has said most of the missing girls are Christian. But the video shows girls reciting Muslim scriptures and holding their hands for prayers.
The video screening at a government building was attended by local and state officials. The chairman of Chibok’s local government had brought some parents of the missing girls, along with four girls who had escaped their captors.
The kidnapping has drawn international condemnation. On Tuesday, demonstrators rallied near Paris' Eiffel Tower where they called for the girls' safe return.
Also, the United Nations sent a high-level representative to Nigeria to support the government's efforts to find the schoolgirls. It says Special Representative for West Africa Said Djinnit will meet with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan and other senior government officials over the next few days.
Some information for this report provided by Reuters