Zee Media Bureau/Supriya Jha
Abuja: The US has deployed unmanned surveillance aircraft to help search the schoolgirls abducted by the Boko Haram as the Nigeria government on Monday snubbed an offer by the militant group to release militants in return for the girls, saying a prisoner swap “is not on the table”.
Rejecting the choice given by the Boko Haram, Nigerian Interior Minister Abba Moro said that the militant outfit was not in a moral position to make the offer, reported the BBC.
Speaking to the BBC, Mr Moro said that Nigeria government would not consider “the option of [the] swap of innocent citizens with people who have taken arms against the country”.
Nigeria`s rejection of the Boko Haram offer came as the US reportedly started flying manned ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) assets over the country to help trace the girls.
Also, the US is mulling over deployment of unmanned drones to aid in the search, said a Reuters report.
Saying that there was no reason to doubt the authenticity of the video released by the Boko Haram, US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that American intelligence experts are “combing through every detail of the video” to look for more clues that might help in the ongoing efforts to find the abducted girls.
Addressing a press conference, Ms Psaki supported Nigeria`s decision of rejecting the swap offer saying, even the US policy is "to deny kidnappers the benefits of their criminal acts, including ransoms or concessions."
The video released by the militant group shows over 130 missing schoolgirls clad in full-length hijab, reading Quran in an unknown location.
Also, the video shows three girls being interviewed, with two of them confirming that they had been converted to Islam from Christianity. The girls, however said that they hadn`t been harmed.
In the 27-minute video, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau is demanding the release of jailed comrades in exchange of the kidnapped girls.
"For those who have not accepted Islam, I swear to Allah we will never release them until after you release our brethren in your prison," the militant is heard saying.
In an earlier video, the same Boko Haram leader had said that the girls were not meant to be in school and it is Allah`s instruction that they must be sold.
There were previous reports that the girls, who were in final year of the boarding school, were forced to marry their abductors at a normal bride rate of $12.
It`s been almost a month that the militant group Boko Haram abducted 276 girls from a boarding school in Chibok province on April 14, however the government has been struggling to find any information about them.
The US, UK, France and now even Israel, are assisting the Nigeria government in searching the girls. The search for the girls is concentrated in the restive northeast region, where the Boko Haram militants have had their camps and arms cache.
Almost a month after Boko Haram militants kidnapped more than 270 girls in Nigeria, the international outrage has been mounting over the heinous abduction by the militant group, with protests being staged across the world.
Boko Haram, when translated to English means "Western education is sin".
It was designated as a terrorist organisation in November 2013. It has been launchingb increasing number of attacks on schools in northern Nigeria, killing and abducting many innocent students.