In Brief

Boko Haram: kidnapped schoolgirls 'forced to become militants'

Survivors say some of the Chibok girls have been brainwashed into fighting for the Nigerian Islamist group

Schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram

Some of the school girls captured by Boko Haram last year have been forced to fight for the terrorist group and have been brainwashed by Islamist militants, according to other captives who have escaped. 

Witnesses told BBC Panorama that some of the young girls kidnapped from Chibok last year were being used to terrorise the other captives and carry out floggings and even murders.

One of the survivors who escaped described what happened after she refused to marry one of the militants: "[The girls] came back with four men, they slit [the mens'] throats in front of us. They then said that this will happen to any girl that refuses to get married."

Another escapee said: "The ones I've seen are totally heartless. Even the men avoid them because they are scared."

But neither woman blamed the girls for what they did, saying they had been brainwashed by the militants. "It's not their fault, they were forced to do it," said one. “Anyone who sees the Chibok girls has to feel sorry for them."

Amnesty International estimates that the terrorists have captured more than 2,000 women and girls since the beginning of last year. The largest single abduction occurred when the 276 schoolgirls were taken from Chibok in April, sparking an international outcry.

Captives are subjected to rape, torture, forced marriage and religious conversion, with some being sold on as sex slaves. "The abduction and brutalisation of young women and girls seems to be part of the modus operandi of Boko Haram," Amnesty's Netsanet Belay told The Guardian.

The Nigerian military has launched an assault on the Islamists in their stronghold in the north of the country, managing to rescue hundreds of captives in recent months.

But survivors now face the "mammoth task" of coming to terms with the horrors they experienced, says the BBC's Tulip Mazumdar.

"I can't get the images out of my head," one victim told her. "I see people being slaughtered. I just pray that the nightmares don't return."

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