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Two months later, search for missing Nigerian schoolgirls continues

June 28, 2014 at 7:14 PM EDT
More than two months after their capture, the search continues for more than 200 girls kidnapped by extremists in Nigeria. New reports suggest search efforts are being scaled back, despite more kidnappings. Hari Sreenivasan speaks with Michelle Faul, the Associated Press bureau chief in Nigeria, to get the latest on the situation.

HARI SREENIVASAN: And now to Nigeria, where the search for more than 200 missing schoolgirls seized two months ago continues. For the latest about that, we are joined now via Skype from Lagos, Nigeria by Michelle Faul. She is the AP Bureau Chief there.

So Michelle, we’re hearing about a continued string of kidnappings, now including women and children as well.

MICHELLE FAUL: You have women, you have children, you have married women with three-year-old toddlers; young boys and men, young men being kidnapped we assume to be used as fighters. This has been going on for a year. The reason that it came to all the tension was because of the large number of girls, the more than 200 girls who were kidnapped from Chibok town as they were writing exams, and they remain in captivity.

HARI SREENIVASAN: So there have been reports that some of the search efforts are being scaled back, including some of the drone flights the U.S. had been volunteering to look for those missing girls.

MICHELLE FAUL: Well of course, we heard from the Nigerian military two or three weeks ago that they say they know where the girls are, but they fear that any kind of military action would mean that the abductors would kill the girls.

In terms of the search, we’re not hearing as much as we would like to hear. President Goodluck Jonathan tried to give an excuse for that. He wrote an op-ed that was published in the Washington Post two days ago, in which he said that his silence revolved around trying to not endanger the investigations that his government and the military are involved in.

I call Chibok every day, every second day I talk to the parents. They are begging the government to negotiate with these Boko Haram extremists. Now we know that Boko Haram has demanded that the Nigerian government release the sum of the detainees it’s holding. President Jonathan, we are told, has indicated that he will not consider a prisoner swap. So you have a situation where it’s a total stall, and nobody knows where to go from that.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Michelle Faul from the Associated Press joining us from Nigeria via Skype. Thanks so much.

MICHELLE FAUL: You’re welcome.