Nigerian Government Won't Pay Ransom For 200+ Girls Kidnapped By Muslim Extremists

| by Allison Geller

The Nigerian government has said that it will not pay ransom money to release almost 300 schoolgirls who were kidnapped by a Muslim extremist group. Government officials have made contact with the militants, but say they will not abide “the sale of human beings.”

Doctor Reuben Abati told Sky News that while officials are in contact with Muslim extremist group Boko Haram, they will not pay for the girls’ release.

"The government of Nigeria has no intention to pay a ransom or to buy the girls, because the sale of human beings is a crime against humanity,” said Dr. Abati.

"The determination of the government is to get the girls and to ensure that the impunity that has brought this about is checked and punished."

The international community has rallied around the search for the kidnapped girls. More than 300 were abducted from a boarding school in Chibok, located in the northern Nigerian state of Borno, on April 15. Fifty three are thought to have escaped. Two hundred and seventy three are still missing.

Boko Haram's leader Abubakar Shekau has threatened to sell the girls "at the market." Some are thought to already be out of the country.

Intelligence officials are scouring the country’s massive Sambisa forest, while neighboring countries Chad, Cameroon, and Niger have provided satellite imagery to help with the search. Experts from the UK, US, and France are also providing support in the country. French President Francois Hollande offered to host a summit in Paris this week for the recovery effort.

Pope Francis also joined in the outcry, tweeting "Let us all join in prayer for the immediate release of the schoolgirls kidnapped in Nigeria #BringBackOurGirls."

The militants posted a 17-minute video of the girls wearing hijabs and reciting verses of the Koran.

“Do you know, ‘We have liberated them?’ ” said Shekau, according Sky News. “These girls have become Muslims. They are Muslims.”

The Nigerian government has been criticized for not doing enough to stop the five-year insurgency led by Boko Haram.

Former vice president Atiku Abubakar told Sky News: "This is a clear case of mismanagement of a small group of bandits who have been allowed to really grow into a monstrous terrorist organization that we now have."

Boko Haram—their name meaning "Western education is forbidden"— is responsible for the deaths of 1,500 already this year.

Sources: Sky News (2), New York Post