posted at 06:50
Author: The Associated Press
Boko Haram denies cease-fire, leader says he married off kidnapped girls
MAIDUGURI, Nigeria - The leader of Boko Haram has denied agreeing to any cease-fire with the Nigerian government, and said he married off the more than 200 schoolgirls that the Islamic extremist group kidnapped. In a new video released late Friday night, Abubakar Shekau dashed hopes for a prisoner exchange to get the girls released. Nigeria's chief of defense staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh, on Oct. 17 announced that Boko Haram had agreed to an immediate cease-fire to end a 5-year-old insurgency that has killed thousands of people, and driven hundreds of thousands from their homes in northeast Nigeria. Shekau in August announced that Boko Haram wanted to establish an Islamic caliphate, along the lines of the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq. Boko Haram's kidnapping of 276 schoolgirls taking exams at a boarding school in the remote northeastern town of Chibok in April prompted an international campaign for their release and criticism of Nigeria's government for not acting quickly to free them. Nobel Peace Prize laureate and international education activist Malala Yousafzai visited Nigeria in July, and urged Boko Haram to free the kidnapped girls, calling them her "Sisters." Unconfirmed reports have indicated that the girls have been broken up into several groups, and that some may have been carried across borders into Cameroon and Chad. The government had said it had negotiated with two Boko Haram leaders in Chad, with talks hosted by President Idriss Deby, and that it was confident the girls would be freed soon. Nigeria, with some 160 million people, is divided almost equally between Muslims who dominate the north and Christians in the south.

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