BAUCHI: One of the teenagers who escaped from Islamic extremists who abducted more than 300 female students said the kidnapping was “too terrifying for words” and she was too scared to go back to school.
Science student Sarah Lawan, 19, told the Associated Press yesterday that more of the girls and young women could have escaped but that they were frightened by their captors’ threats to shoot them.
Lawan spoke in a phone interview from Chibok, her home and the site of the mass abduction in north-east Nigeria. The failure to rescue 276 of the students still held captive four weeks on has attracted national and international outrage.
“I am pained that others could not summon the courage to run away with me,” she said. “Now I cry each time I come across their parents and see how they weep when they see me.”
Police say 53 students escaped and captors were threatening to sell those still held into slavery.
Lawan said other students who escaped later have told her that the abductors spoke of their plans to marry them.
She said the thought of going back to the burnt-out remains of Chibok Government Girls Secondary School terrifies her.
“I am really scared to go back there; but I have no option if I am asked to go because I need to finish my final year exams which were stopped half way through,” she said. In churches across Nigeria, congregations prayed for the students.
Meanwhile, US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel said the United States has no plans to send troops to Nigeria to help recover hundreds of schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram. “There’s no intention, at this point, to (put) American boots on the ground,” Hagel told ABC television’s “This Week” programme.
Washington last week sent a team of military advisers as part of an international effort to help Nigeria find the girls. Hagel was far from upbeat about chances of finding the girls.
“It will be very difficult. It’s a vast country. This is not going to be an easy task,” Hagel said.
In London, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby warned of the difficulties of negotiating with an “utterly merciless” group like Boko Haram, but called for active contact with the Nigerian Islamists. Welby has experience of negotiating with violent groups in the Niger Delta in southern Nigeria.
In an interview with BBC radio about the fate of the schoolgirls, the archbishop said the girls faced a “colossal” risk.
“They’re in the hands of a very disparate group which is extremely irrational and difficult to deal with and utterly merciless in the example it’s shown in the past, and it must be a huge concern,” he said.