Surveillance flights by United States plane over the northeastern part of the country spotted the abducted Chibok girls in early July, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday.
The surveillance suggests that at least some of the 219 schoolgirls still held captive have not been forced into marriage or sex slavery, as had been feared, but instead are being used as bargaining chips for the release of prisoners.
The paper said the U.S. aerial imagery matches what Nigerian officials say they hear from those who have interacted with the Islamist insurgency that some of Boko Haram’s most famous set of captives are getting special treatment, compared with the hundreds of other girls the group is suspected to have kidnapped.
Boko Haram appears to have seen the schoolgirls as of higher value, given the global attention paid to their plight, the officials said.
The report said the plane spotted a group of 60 to 70 girls held in an open field, quoting two U.S. defense officials.
“Late last month, they spotted a set of roughly 40 girls in a different field,” it said.
When surveillance flights returned, both sets of girls had been moved. U.S. intelligence analysts say they don’t have enough information to confirm whether the two groups of girls they saw are the same.
They also can’t say whether those groups included any of the girls the group has held since April. But U.S. and Nigerian officials said they believe they are indeed those schoolgirls.
“It’s unusual to find a large group of young women like that in an open space,” said one U.S. defense official. “We’re assuming they’re not a rock band of hippies out there camping.”
A wave of intermediaries acting on their own has tried to negotiate the girls’ release, the Presidential media aide, Mr. Reuben Abati told the paper, adding that the President Goodluck Jonathan has neither authorized nor discouraged those efforts.
Several of those intermediaries have said Boko Haram’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, has ordered his fighters to treat the girls as valuable hostages—not sex slaves—one senior security adviser said quoted as saying.
“He gave a directive that anybody found touching any of the girls should be killed immediately,” the adviser said. “If true, it is cheering.”
The Coordinator, National Information Centre, Mike Omeri, said he has no information on the reported sighting of the girls, but added that it tallied with the claim by the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal, Alex Badeh, that the military knew where the girls are.
“I don’t have any information in this, but remember that the CDS had said the military knew where the girls are,” he stated.
Posted From iProdigy Group Nigeria(Dabibi Ori-ibim’s Blog).
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