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Families of missing Nigerian schoolgirls protest against government inaction

Parents and relatives of the more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls who were kidnapped while attending school have taken to the streets in protest over the government’s failure to take action. Two weeks ago the girls were abducted in the middle of a physics lesson at the Government Girls Secondary School in the north-east of the country, reportedly by members of the fundamentalist Islamic group, Boko Haram, whose name translates as "Western education is forbidden". Government officials stated that 129 girls, aged between 12 and 17, were kidnapped when gunmen stormed the school on 14 April. But locals insist the number of girls taken was about 230, although between 40 and 50 girls are believed to have since escaped their captors. Yesterday, Women for Peace and Justice, a campaign group working for women’s rights, put the call out for a “million-woman march” in a bid to demand more from the Nigerian authorities to find the missing girls. While organisers initially faced difficulties amassing such a number, awareness of the march gained support on Twitter through the hashtag #bringbackourgirls and the march went ahead as planned today. The demonstration followed a similar protest yesterday, when the mothers of the missing girls marched on the National Assembly in the Nigerian capital of Abuja to demand greater action. According to newswire Agence France-Presse, yesterday’s protest leader Naomi Mutah told politicians that they did not know the whereabouts of the girls, saying that some might have crossed over to Chad. “Our grievance is this: for the past two weeks and this is the third week, we have not heard anybody talking to us,” said Ms Mutah.

According to reports, local elders have said it was believed the girls have been sold as brides to Islamist fighters. The Boko Haram group has led a five-year reign of terror in the region, killing 1,500 people in the last year alone.

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