UPDATED 5/14/14, 5:36 P.M. EST: Waffling for the fourth time this week, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan is now saying he will NOT negotiate with terrorist group Boko Haram, after allowing a minister to contradict his statement just a day earlier.
British Africa Minister Mark Simmonds told the BBC that after meeting with President Jonathan this afternoon, “He made it very clear that there will be no negotiation with Boko Haram that involves a swap of abducted schoolgirls for prisoners.”
On Monday, Boko Haram released a video of the more than 100 schoolgirls praying in Arabic and said they would release the girls in exchange for imprisoned terrorists.
Frustration Boils Over
In other news, soldiers frustrated with the reported lack of sufficient arms to fight insurgents, reportedly fired on their own commander’s, Maj-Gen Ahmed Mohammed, car in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State. The soldiers were reportedly protesting the men they lost in yet another Boko Haram ambush on Tuesday without adequate resources.
General Mohammad wasn’t harmed in the shooting.
Civilians Fight Back
Finally, three villages came together and fought off an impending Boko Haram ambush, killing more than 200 terrorists in Kala-Balge, Borno State. The villages were said to be successful because they formed a vigilante group and worked together.
After initially saying they would “explore all options,” regarding negotiating the release of the missing schoolgirls with Boko Haram on Monday, Nigeria made headlines before the close of the day, saying that “swapping” the girls was actually “off of the table.” On Tuesday, though, another minister communicated that they are ready to begin negotiating, according to the BBC.
One day after Boko Haram’s second infamous video hit the press, with terrorist leader Abubakar Shekau demanding the release of his members in a “swap,” Special Duties Minister Tanimu Turaki (pictured) says that if the terrorist group is serious, then the time for negotiation is now.
Special Duties Minister Tanimu Turaki said that if Shekau was sincere, he should send representatives for talks.
Mr Turaki — who is chairman of a committee set up by President Goodluck Jonathan to find ways of reconciling with Boko Haram — said that Mr Shekau should send people he trusts to meet the standing committee on reconciliation.
Meanwhile, the Chibok community reportedly reacted to the video Monday night by identifying some of the students in the video as well as expressing anxiety about the girls’ predicament.
The Government Secondary School chairman reportedly told Reuters that a Mother recognized her child among the group of girls who were displayed in hijabs during the 27-minute video. In addition, three more students were also reportedly identified by peers, according to the BBC.
Watch part of the Boko Haram video here:
Referencing Boko Haram leader Shekau’s claims that many of the girls had converted to Islam, parents confirmed that the majority of girls, who were at GSS taking exams, were mostly Christians.
The viewing of the video by family, friends, and community residents was reportedly bittersweet, “The video got parents apprehensive again after watching it, but the various steps taken by the governments and the coming of the foreign troops is boosting our spirit, said Dumoma Mpur, “even though I have not seen any one [sic] soldier in Chibok yet.”
Also on Tuesday, the United States confirmed that they currently have surveillance planes flying over suspected areas. State department Spokesman Jen Psaki added, “[The United States is] providing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance support” and are “digging in on the search and co-ordinating closely with the Nigerian government as well as international partners and allies.”
According to U.S. Press Secretary Jay Carney, the U.S. team is comprised of about 30 people from the FBI, State, and Defense departments.
“The team includes five State Department officials, including a team leader, two strategic communications experts, a civil security expert and a regional medical support officer. Four FBI officials with expertise in safe recovery, negotiations and preventing future kidnappings are also part of the group.
“The Pentagon said 16 Defense Department personnel are on the team, including planners and advisers who were already in Nigeria and have been redirected to assist the government. Also on the team are DoD personnel who were sent to Nigeria from AFRICOM, the U.S. Africa Command based in Germany.”
Watch Carney discuss U.S. involvement in finding the missing girls here:
Wednesday will make four weeks since the students were kidnapped from their schools. And while the video seemed to show that more than half of the captured girls are in good health, last Monday an unnamed intermediary explained that two girls had already died from snake bites and about 20 others were ill.
What will Boko Haram do next?