One of the nearly 300 girls kidnapped from their boarding school in Nigeria was able to escape the Boko Haram and is now speaking out about her captors.
The 16-year-old says men in uniforms burst into the girls' burning dormitory in the middle of the night on April 14 and pretended they were rescuing them. At first the students were relieved, The Associated Press reported.
"Don't worry, we're soldiers," she recalled them saying. "Nothing is going to happen to you."
Hundreds of girls were led out of Chibok Government Girls Secondary School into waiting pickup trucks. The men also took all the food from the school’s pantry.
"They ... started shouting, 'Allahu Akhbar,' (God is great)," she said. "And we knew."
The men weren’t rescuers. They were members of the militant Islamic group Boko Haram – which means “Western education is sinful.” The group is against contact with the Western world and doesn't believe that women should be educated.
The 16-year-old and about 50 others were able to escape the kidnappers.
After three weeks, 276 girls are still missing. At least two have died from snakebites and 20 others are ill, according to an intermediary who claims to have communication with the captors.
Boko Haram, which has claimed more than 1,500 lives this year, has threatened to sell the girls.
On April 15, the Defense Ministry claimed all but eight of the girls had been returned – a lie that it perpetuated until the school’s principal and the girls’ families started speaking to the press.
While the AP reports 276 girls missing, Borno state police said only 223 were being held Friday.
"I am so very sad because the government of Nigeria did not take care of our children and does not now care about our children," said the mother, who spoke on condition of anonymity to protect her daughter. "All we have left is to pray to God to help them and help us."
Boko Haram took responsibility for the kidnappings Monday.
"I abducted your girls," the group's leader Abubakar Shekau said in a 57-minute video obtained by the AFP.
"By Allah, I will sell them in the marketplace," he said.
In 2013, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau said in a video that hostages, including women and children, are to be treated as “slaves.” According to BBC News, they hold an ancient Islamic belief that women captured during war are slaves with whom their "masters" can have sex.