As many as 300 teenaged girls were abducted from their school in Nigeria on April 15 by the Islamic militant terror organization Boko Haram. The group is based in Nigeria and has carried out attacks on schools before.
Some girls managed to escape, but many are believed to have been transported into neighboring Cameroon or Chad.
The leader of Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, has said he plans to sell the girls into marriages and sex slavery, but now says he is willing to exchange them for imprisoned militants
Videos released by Boko Haram today show about 100 of the girls wearing hijabs and reciting the Koran.
Abubakar Shekau, the group's leader, says in the video he willing to exchange the girls for imprisoned Boko Haram militants.
The video offered the first glimpse of hope for Nigerian families that the girls may be returned safely.
What Is the World Doing to Rescue the Girls?
The president of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan, has received criticism for waiting weeks to ask for international assistance to recover the girls. He now says the government is doing all it can to find them and bring them home alive.
A team of U.S. experts is in Nigeria to assist the government in trying to rescue the girls. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the team consisted of law enforcement, intelligence and military experts who will use counter-terrorism efforts in Nigeria.
Meanwhile, Nigerian peace negotiator Shehu Sani told ABC News that he has proposed a formal negotiation between Nigerian Islamic clerics and Boko Haram that would see the girls returned within a week in exchange for insurgents currently imprisoned in Nigeria. He said the fact that Boko Haram threatened to sell the girls rather than kill them is a positive sign that they are open to negotiations.
Could the Kidnapping Have Been Prevented?
Amnesty International said that Nigerian security forces failed to act on advance warnings about Boko Haram’s armed raid on the state-run boarding school in Chibok.
The Nigerian government has also been criticized for its failure to battle Boko Haram in recent years as the terror group has increased its attacks, sophistication and organization.
The U.S. State Department and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton received criticism for not designating Boko Haram a terror organization until very recently, in November 2013, despite earlier attacks. The State Department said it worried the designation would boost recruiting efforts for the group and was unsure whether Boko Haram posed any threat outside of Nigeria.
Is Anyone Else Trying to Help?
Michelle Obama used the president's weekly radio address this weekend to issue a plea for the girls' safe return.
Protesters across Nigeria rallied this weekend to draw attention to the plight of the girls.
The Twitter hashtag "#BringBackOurGirls" has been trending at various points since the girls were taken, with many users from around the world demanding a swift rescue of the girls.