Schoolgirl who refused to convert to Islam still held by Boko Haram


Boko Haram militants have refused to release one of the 110 girls they abducted from the northeastern Nigerian town of Dapchi last month because she refused to convert to Islam.

Boko Haram militants returned 104 of the kidnapped girls to Dapchi on Wednesday, just over one month after they were abducted from their school on 19 February.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari is committed to securing the freedom of the schoolgirl, identified as 15-year-old Leah Sharibu, presidential spokesman Garba Shehu said.

The Nigerian government said on Thursday that Sharibu, a Christian, was the only one of the abducted students that remained in Boko Haram custody. The government was silent on the whereabouts of the five remaining schoolgirls unaccounted for.

"I am appealing to them to release my daughter," Rebecca Sharibu, the girl's mother, told journalists. "I want them to release her."

Sharibu said she learned from several other schoolgirls that her daughter was not allowed leave with the other abductees because she refused to convert to Islam.

"Her friends said she asked them to tell her family to pray for her," Rebecca said.  

Inuwa Garba, the father of one of the missing schoolgirls, told journalists on Thursday accounts from his daughter's classmates indicated that she and four others died shortly after they were abducted.

"They told me five of the girls died and my daughter who was among them was the first to die," Garba said.  

According to the accounts, his daughter, 16-year-old Salmata Garba, died on same day that the abduction took place, before the group travelled far from Dapchi.    (dpa)

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