The remainder of Nigeria's missing schoolgirls have been converted to Islam and married off, the leader of Boko Haram said in a video released this weekend.
Abubakar Shekau, the elusive leader of the Islamist terror group that kidnapped 276 girls from a boarding school in Nigeria's northeast in April, laughed on camera as he delivered the news, saying the girls are "long forgotten because I have long ago married them off."
Shekau also contradicted the Nigerian government's claims it negotiated a ceasefire with the militant group and was working out a deal to free the missing girls.
Boko Haram, which translates roughly to "western education is sinful" in the local Hausa language, communicates primarily through videotaped statements made by a Shekau — a man the Nigerian government has previously claimed it has killed several times.
The fate of the missing girls has been the subject of vast speculation and conflicting accounts, but it has been widely reported that many have been forced to marry their captors, while others have been sold off as brides or slaves for as little as $12 in the months since they were abducted from their school in the village of Chibok in Nigeria's northeastern state of Borno.
President Goodluck Jonathan and his government have also made several unsubstantiated claims on the whereabouts of the girls in the last six months, some of which were later proved blatantly false.
The latest announcement that it was holding talks with two Boko Haram leaders in Chad was met with skepticism when it was announced on October 17.
Boko Haram is a Sunni splinter group and its numerous factions do not always work in sync. Shekau disproved an earlier alleged truce deal made between the government and purported group leaders last year, saying the negotiators had not spoken with him.
Despite assurances that the Nigerian government had negotiated an immediate ceasefire two weeks ago, indiscriminate attacks and abductions have continued in the country's restive northeast.
Mere hours after the purported truce, suspected Boko Haram militants carried out two deadly attacks on the villages of Abadam and Dzur. This week, militants overtook Mubi, a city of more than 200,000 people, and there were also reports of fighting in nearby Vimtin on Friday, the Associated Press reported.
Thousands have been killed since Boko Haram began its five-year-long insurgency across the country. In August, Shekau announced the group would establish an Islamic Caliphate across the country, which is almost split evenly by Muslims in the north and Christians in the south.
The kidnapped girls are both Christian and Muslim. Their plight has drawn international attention, sparking a global social media campaign and hashtag #BringBackOurGirls. The renewed attention in the region has caused Jonathan to rethink Nigeria's isolationist approach to dealing with Boko Haram, which the leader has long maintained is a domestic issue.
But the latest video released by the group has further damaged the credibility of Jonathan, coming just a day after he announced his intentions to run for reelection in 2015.
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