The girls from the Government Girls Science and Technical College Dapchi. They were kidnapped and set free are photographed during a hand over to government officials in Maiduguri, Nigeria, Wednesday, March 21, 2018. Witnesses say Boko Haram militants have returned an unknown number of the 110 girls who were abducted from their Nigeria school a month ago. (AP Photo/Hamza Suleiman)
LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) — The Latest on mass abduction and release of Nigerian schoolgirls (all times local):
The mother of the only Nigerian schoolgirl still in Boko Haram captivity after the extremists released 104 classmates says her daughter was blocked from boarding the vehicle to freedom with her classmates and told to convert to Islam.
Rebecca Sharibu tells The Associated Press that her 15-year-old daughter, Leah, refused.
“Her friends said they tried to convince her but she said she will not convert to Islam,” the girl’s mother says. “Boko Haram said since she will not convert to Islam she should remain behind. That was how they left her.”
Leah Sharibu asked her departing Muslim classmates to pray for her.
Nigeria’s president says the only schoolgirl remaining in Boko Haram captivity after the extremists released 104 classmates seized in a mass abduction “will not be abandoned.”
President Muhammadu Buhari’s statement calls Leah Sharibu “the only Dapchi schoolgirl still in captivity” — an indication that five girls still unaccounted for after Wednesday’s release are dead. Freed girls have said the five died of injuries from the frightened stampede during the abduction a month ago.
Freed girls and parents have said Sharibu is Christian and still captive “because they want to convert her to Islam.”
Buhari’s statement says “true followers of Islam all over the world respect the injunction that there is no compulsion in religion.”
The father of one of the Nigerian schoolgirls still unaccounted for after Boko Haram extremists returned 104 girls from a mass abduction says he believes his daughter and others are dead and buried.
Inuwa Garba tells The Associated Press that friends of his daughter who were freed Wednesday told him the 16-year-old died from injuries in the stampede during the mass abduction a month ago.
“They told me five of the girls died and my daughter, who was among them, was the first to die,” Garba says. The survivors told him the bodies were buried in the bush.
Nigeria’s government has not commented on the fate of the six missing girls.
At least one of the freed girls has said a Christian classmate remained captive, while those released are Muslim.