A man claiming to be the leader of Nigeria's Islamic extremist group, Boko Haram, says more than 200 schoolgirls the group kidnapped in April have converted to Islam and been married off.
In a new video, the person identified as Abubakar Shekau said the girls have memorized two chapters of the Quran and are now in their marital homes. Most of the girls taken from Chibok village six months ago came from Christian families.
The video that journalists saw Saturday conflicts with the Nigerian government's earlier announcement that it was negotiating with Boko Haram to release the girls. The militant seen in the video said Boko Haram has not negotiated with the government and will not enter any talks. The main claiming to be Shekau said he does not know who supposedly represented the militants in talks with the government.
There was no immediate response from the government Saturday to the militant's claims. Nigeria's military has said it killed Shekau last year, and also killed an impostor posing as Shekau last month.
The Boko Haram militant seen in the video said the group is interested in fighting and killing its foes, not in negotiations. He said the issue of the girls taken from Chibok village has been "long forgotten" by Boko Haram.
The video statement also claimed Boko Haram is holding a German hostage. A German teacher was kidnapped in the northeastern town of Gombi in July.
Human Rights Watch published a report earlier this week saying Boko Haram was holding upwards of 500 women and young girls and that forced marriage was commonplace in the militant camps. One former hostage told HRW she saw some of the Chibok girls forced to cook and clean for other women and girls who had been chosen for "special treatment because of their beauty."
HRW said the statements of witnesses and victims of Boko Haram abductions suggest the Nigerian government has failed to "adequately protect women and girls from a myriad of abuses" or "provide them with effective support and mental health and medical care after captivity." The 63-page report says Nigeria has also failed to investigate and prosecute those responsible for the abuses.