Nigerian militant group Boko Haram reportedly released a new video Sunday showing dozens of the kidnapped schoolgirls that went missing over two years ago. A masked fighter, toting a gun claimed many of the girls were killed in airstrikes. In the video, he demands the release of imprisoned militants in exchange for the remaining girls.
“We want to send this message first to the parents of these girls for them to know that these girls are still with us, some of them, and secondly they should tell the Federal Government of Nigeria, to with immediate effect, release our imprisoned brothers,” the man said in the video seen by Reuters.
According to Reuters, the end of the video showed bodies on the ground. One man confirmed to CNN that his daughter was seen speaking in the video.
Boko Haram snatched over 270 Chibok schoolgirls in April 2014. Dozens of them were able to flee, while many others were forced against their will into marriages. The group is also responsible for the deaths of thousands of civilians.
Government officials are skeptical about claims of the deaths being due to military airstrikes.
“It is extremely difficult and rare to hit innocent people during airstrike because the operation is done through precision attack on identified and registered targets and locations. The Precision Airstrike is very effective at taking out targeted enemies because it is not a random operation. We are nevertheless studying the video clips to examine if the victims died from other causes rather from the allegation of airstrike,” said Brigadier General Rabe Abubakar via PR Nigeria.
The Federal Ministry of Information and Culture posted an update on Facebook about being “in touch” with those behind the video.
“We are on top of the situation. But we are being extremely careful because the situation has been compounded by the split in the leadership of Boko Haram. We are also being guided by the need to ensure the safety of the girls,” the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said in a statement.