Lagos — The militant Islamist group Boko Haram released a video on Monday which purported to show some of the girls kidnapped from the Nigerian town of Chibok nearly four years ago, saying they do not wish to return home.
Of the about 270 girls originally abducted from their school in April 2014, about 60 escaped soon afterwards and others have since been released after mediation. About 100 are still believed to be in captivity.
A group of about 12 teenage girls and young women, some of whom are holding babies, are seen in the 21-minute video.
"We are the Chibok girls. We are the ones you are crying about for us to come back. By the grace of Allah, we are never coming back," said one of the girls in the Hausa language spoken in northern Nigeria.
"These people are taking care of us and we are grateful to them. We are happy here — we have found our faith," said the girl, clad in full Muslim veil.
Reuters was unable to independently verify the claim that the girls were among those kidnapped in Chibok. Abubakar Shekau — the leader of one of the group’s factions — also appears in the video, which was obtained by a US-based journalism website, Sahara Reporters.
"The Chibok girls have adopted and recognised God’s religion," Shekau said, flanked by four masked men.
"We captured the Chibok girls while they were being taught western education. They realised that western education, its rules and regulations that you taught them, is bad," Shekau said. The name Boko Haram roughly translates as "western education is forbidden" in the Hausa language.
Last May, the militant group exchanged 82 of the girls after mediation, involving a payment to the insurgents and the release of some of the group’s imprisoned senior members. Prior to that, 24 had been released or found in 2016. Their mass abduction attracted global attention and spawned a "Bring Back Our Girls" campaign, but aid groups say the militants have kidnapped thousands of adults and children, many of whose cases are neglected.
Boko Haram has killed more than 20,000 people and forced 2-million others to flee their homes in an insurgency that began in 2009 aimed at creating an Islamic caliphate.
The group continues to carry out lethal suicide bomb attacks in northeast Nigeria despite repeated government assertions that the insurgency has been defeated.