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Nigerian Cardinal: Bring kidnapped girls home

(Vatican Radio) It has been three weeks since more than 300 teenage school girls were kidnapped from a school in northeastern Nigeria by the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram, sparking widespread outrage over the government’s inability to locate the missing girls.

At least 53 of the girls have managed to escape their captors since their abduction on 15 April, while 276 are believed to still be in captivity.

On Monday, a video was released by Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau in which he threatened to sell the girls, and to attack more schools and abduct more girls. Incidentally, the term Boko Haram means: “Western education is sinful”.

The mass abduction and the military's failure to rescue the girls and young women has roused national outrage with protests in major cities.

“We are all ashamed,” said Archbishop of Abuja Cardinal John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan in an interview with Emer McCarthy. “The fact that, up until now we are hearing practically nothing concrete on the issue, I think almost every Nigerian is taken aback. We cannot explain what is happening”.

Cardinal Onaiyekan noted that while many schools had closed due to threats of attack by Boko Haram, this most recent incident took place at a school that had temporarily reopened to allow the girls the opportunity to complete their final exams in a secure environment “so that they would not lose out completely”.

According to the cardinal, the soldiers who were tasked with defending the school were unable to prevent the terrorists from invading the town and school.

Cardinal Onaiyekan says the Nigerian people are baffled by the government’s inability to locate the girls, taking into account its massive size and budgetary support.

“We know that Boko Haram have no sense of humanity. We know that they are killing innocent people. But that they should be able to cart away almost 300 children in the Northeast of Nigeria without any trace of where these children are really baffles us”.

Listen to Emer McCarthy’s full interview with Cardinal Onaiyekan: RealAudioMP3