Girls freed in Nigeria tell of servitude, escaping death and surviving 40 days without food


ABUJA – “I was … [in] the woods when the plane dropped a bomb near me but I wasn’t hurt,” said Gloria Dame, a schoolgirl who is one of 21 recently freed after being held by Nigeria’s Boko Haram militants for more than two years.

Dame said they had survived for 40 days without food and narrowly escaped death at least once.

The 21 spoke of their ordeal as they were reunited with their families.

They were taken deep into the Sambisa Forest to Boko Haram’s stronghold, where the more than 200 schoolgirls from Chibok were offered a choice: Join the militants, or become their slaves.

About half of them opted to join and marry the fighters and were taken away, never to be heard from.

Those who refused endured more than two years of servitude, washing, fetching water and cooking for Boko Haram.

“We had no food for one month and 10 days but we did not die. We thank God,” Dame said, speaking in the local Hausa language.

Nigeria’s security services negotiated their release. Most of the kidnapped students were Christian but had been forcibly converted to Islam during captivity.

As many as 276 girls were taken in April 2014 when members of Boko Haram stormed their boarding school during exam week.

About 50 of them escaped in the initial days after the abduction, but before last week only one had been found since: Amina Ali, who was discovered this year roaming in the forest with a baby.


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