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Nigeria: Girl Escapes Boko Haram

Teen Recounts her Months as Boko Haram Captive

A 15-year-old girl can dream about her future again after a harrowing escape from her abductors. The teenager survived seven weeks in the custody of Islamic terrorists Boko Haram, who kidnapped her in October from her home in northern Nigeria.

Near noon on Oct. 29, 2014, Boko Haram militants ambushed Mubi, the city where Abigail lived with her family. The teenager’s mother, Rebecca John, was away visiting her sister when her daughter and a group of others were captured by Boko Haram militants. Abigail’s brother, Lucky, was also abducted. Their mother would spend the next two months wondering if either of her children was alive. As Abigail was dragged away from her home, she “saw so many corpses of men.”

Through this attack, Boko Haram conquered Mubi and established their claim on the city. They renamed the city “Madinatul Islam” or City of Islam, and added the city to several cities the militant group has captured in an effort to establish an Islamic caliphate in northern Nigeria.

In the raid, the men were killed, while women and children were abducted and taken to a large house. That evening, the kidnappers fed their captives and treated them well. After breakfast the next morning, one of the Boko Haram members “started preaching Islam to us,” said Abigail.

The day’s lesson was suddenly interrupted when a Nigerian military jet dropped a bomb close to the building. A second jet could be heard in the distance, so the terrorists forced Abigail and the others into the main room of the building. Moments later, the house took a direct hit. One of the Boko Haram members was killed, in addition to five women and a child. Many of the hostages were injured by flying shrapnel.

“Those [kidnap victims] who were not affected by the bomb managed to escape,” Abigail said, but she was badly injured. She was taken by her captors to a clinic, where she saw one woman have her leg amputated and she received minor treatment for her broken arm.

After treatment, Boko Haram moved Abigail to a new location. As she recovered, “They did not try to Islamize those of us who were injured, although they kept preaching to us and gave us Muslim names. My name was changed from Abigail to Zainab.”

The terrorists taught the girls how to recite verses of the Quran and how to say the Muslim prayer five times a day. Many of those who escaped during the aerial assault were recaptured and those that were not injured were required to perform ablutions and were forced to profess Islam.

The Boko Haram militants made new attire with long scarves for each of the females. “We all had to wear that as a sign that we were living under an Islamic caliphate,” said Abigail.

Commanders relocated the group again, and Abigail and the rest of the abductees would stay for several more weeks.

While at this location home, the hostages were joined by other females. However, these women were not being held captive. They had chosen to join Boko Haram.

On Dec. 1, the terrorists learned that Nigerian soldiers were advancing on their location. The terrorists panicked and fled, leaving their captives behind. Most of the women and children were still too injured to attempt an escape. One female Boko Haram member “was stubborn enough to stay back to guard us. She started relocating some of the foodstuff in that house to another house. She also locked us in so we could not leave the compound,” said Abigail.

But when the soldiers did not immediately arrive at the compound, the kidnap victims took action. Two of the girls, who were not as badly injured, scaled the fence. They alerted the military of the others. Their female guard was arrested when she came back to check on her captive.

Abigail is now undergoing treatment for her injuries. “I have been in great pains,” said Abigail of her broken arm, but she is thankful that she wasn’t treated much worse. “They surrounded the house where we were kept, but thank God, they did not rape us, especially those of us who were captured in Mubi.”

Her injuries likely prevented the terrorists from taking her into the Sambisa forest, where it would have been difficult to rescue her. Many of the 200 girls captured at Chibok in 2014 were taken into the forest, and most of them have not been heard from again.

Abigail’s mother is grateful to have both her children back. Her son, Lucky, was found safe on Jan. 7. After some recovery time, Abigail, a student at the Government Day Secondary School in Jang, has begun to speak of her future again. She says, “I am scared to go back to Jang or Mubi, but I want to continue my education.” She hopes to become a lawyer and wants to practice law in Lagos or Abuja one day.

Source: VOM Nigeria

Posted: January 30, 2015

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