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Nigeria rejects swap of Boko Haram prisoners for schoolgirls - UK Minister

Source: Reuters - Wed, 14 May 2014 18:13 GMT
Author: Reuters
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A man holds a placard calling for the release of secondary school girls abducted in the remote village of Chibok, during a protest along a road in Lagos May 14, 2014. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye
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ABUJA, May 14 (Reuters) - Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan has rejected the idea of a swap of Boko Haram prisoners for schoolgirls who were kidnapped by the Islamist group a month ago, Britain's minister for Africa said after talks with him in Abuja on Wednesday.

"He made it very clear that there would be no negotiations with Boko Haram that involved a swap of abducted schoolgirls for prisoners," Mark Simmonds told a news conference.

The Islamist group, which is holding more than 200 girls, posted a video on Monday offering to release them in exchange for prisoners held by the government.

Boko Haram militants, who are fighting for an Islamist state, stormed a secondary school in the northeastern village of Chibok on April 14 and seized 276 girls who were taking exams. Some have managed to escape, but about 200 remain missing.

The abductions have triggered a worldwide social media campaign under the Twitter hashtag #BringBackOurGirls, and prompted the United States, Britain, France and Israel to offer help or send experts to Nigeria.

Britain offered further help to Nigeria including a surveillance plane and the offer was accepted, Simmonds said.

(Reporting by Matthew Mpoke Bigg; Writing by Bate Felix; Editing by Andrew Roche)

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