Two weeks ago, more than 230 teenage girls were kidnapped from a school in Nigeria by the Boko Haram fundamentalist group. More than 40 escaped, but the rest are still missing. The Guardian reports now that some families, based on conversations with locals in the area the children are thought to be held, believe that at least some of the remaining captives have been "married" to their militant captors.
Reports of the mass marriage came from a group that meets at dawn each day not far from the charred remains of the school. The ragtag gathering of fathers, uncles, cousins and nephews pool money for fuel before venturing unarmed into the thick forest, or into border towns that the militants have terrorised for months.
On Sunday, the searchers were told that the students had been divided into at least three groups, according to farmers and villagers who had seen truckloads of girls moving around the area. One farmer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the insurgents had paid leaders dowries and fired celebratory gunshots for several minutes after conducting mass wedding ceremonies on Saturday and Sunday.
The Guardian also says a soldier in Nigeria's armed forces told the paper he believes the kidnappers are being tipped off to the movements of military groups attempting to rescue the girls. Meanwhile, The New Yorker reached one of the teenagers who was able to escape; she gave an account of the kidnapping to writer Alexis Okeowo.