Boko Haram said they had abducted the girls because they had attended "western schools"
LAGOS – Nigeria's Boko Haram militant group has claimed responsibility for last month's abduction of scores of secondary schoolgirls from the northern state of Borno, describing them as "war captives."
"They are our war captives," Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau says in a 58-minute video – now available on YouTube.
He appears in military fatigues surrounded by hooded gunmen wearing camouflage.
"We will marry them off at age nine or age 12," Shekau adds – despite the fact that the abducted girls range in age from 17 to 19 years old.
On April 14, militants stormed the Government Girls Secondary School in Borno State's Chibok, located on the fringes of the Sambisa Forest, a known Boko Haram hideout.
They loaded scores of the schoolgirls onto trucks before driving away unhindered.
The exact number of the abducted schoolgirls remains dogged by controversy.
While local authorities say 129 girls went missing that night, some parents put the total as high as 234.
Going by official figures, 73 remain missing until now.
Late Sunday, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan admitted that his government did not know the abducted girls' whereabouts.
It was not immediately clear when the new video was shot.
Several local Chibok residents had told AA last month that some of the abducted schoolgirls had been married off to Boko Haram insurgents and some had been taken to neighboring countries, including Chad.
Speaking in a mixture of Arabic, English and Hausa, Shekau said the group had abducted the girls because they had attended "western schools" in which they had sung a national anthem pledging loyalty to Nigeria.
He described the national pledge that students were required to sing daily in school as "shirk," meaning "polytheism" in Arabic.
"I pledge loyalty to Allah [alone]," Shekau said.
He dismissed the pursuit of western education as tantamount to "disbelief in Allah," an argument that gels with the militant group's tendency to tag anything it dislikes or disapproves of as ungodly.
Shekau spends the first ten minutes of the video justifying his group's activities and citing verses of the Quran on the pursuit of jihad.
More than 1500 people have been killed this year alone in attacks blamed on Boko Haram insurgents, most of which have taken place in the northeastern Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states.
Boko Haram, which means "Western education is forbidden" in the local Hausa language, first emerged in the early 2000s preaching against government misrule and corruption.
The group later became violent, however, after the death of its leader while in police custody.
In the years since, the shadowy sect has been blamed for attacking places of worship and government institutions, along with causing thousands of deaths.
Copyright © 2014 Anadolu Agency