UK & World News

  • 11 May 2014, 23:31

Nigerian Govt 'In Contact With Boko Haram'

Nigerian authorities have made indirect contact with the Islamist group behind the abduction of more than 250 schoolgirls.

Intelligence sources also told Sky News that Nigeria's neighbours - Chad, Cameroon and Niger - are providing satellite imagery to help find the teenagers.

More than 300 youngsters were kidnapped from a boarding school in Chibok in the northern Borno state on April 14. It is thought 53 managed to escape, but 273 are still missing.

Security experts from the UK, US and France are assisting Nigerian authorities in the rescue operation.

But Sky News sources have learned the militants are likely to have laid booby traps and landmines to stop the girls being found.

Search efforts have been further hampered by reports that two important bridges near the borders with Chad and Cameroon have been destroyed by militants in the last week, hindering rescue teams.

The rescue operation has been focused on the vast Sambisa forest near where the girls were abducted. However there are also reports that some have been trafficked across Nigeria's borders.

They are believed to have been split into four different groups.

Boko Haram's leader Abubakar Shekau claimed responsibility for the school raid in a video earlier this week.

He threatened to sell the girls, who he described as slaves, "on the market."

The militant group has also admitted carrying out a bomb attack in the capital Abuja on the same day as the abduction.

The Nigerian military has had tip-offs that the group could now be planning another attack on a nearby market.

The government has faced fierce criticism over its failure to contain the Islamist group's five-year insurgency, which has left thousands dead.

However the brazenness of April's mass abduction has particularly shocked the international community and triggered a major social media campaign.

Pope Francis is among the latest high-profile figures to take part.

He tweeted: "Let us all join in prayer for the immediate release of the schoolgirls kidnapped in Nigeria #BringBackOurGirls."

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