Nigeria abducted girls: Boko Haram escapee still fearful
Nigeria abducted girls: Boko Haram escapee still fearful

Nigeria abducted girls: Boko Haram escapee still fearful

BAUCHI, Nigeria — One of the teenagers who escaped from Islamic extremists who abducted more than 300 schoolgirls says the kidnapping was “too terrifying for words,” and she is scared to go back to school.

Sarah Lawan, a 19-year-old science student, spoke Sunday as Nigerians prayed for the safety of the 276 students still held captive.

Their prayers were joined by Pope Francis.

“Let us all join in prayer for the immediate release of the schoolgirls kidnapped in Nigeria,” the Roman Catholic leader tweeted.

“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.


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