Abuja – Nigeria's Boko Haram Islamists who kidnapped more than 200 girls in Abuja three weeks ago are seeking a prisoner swap for jailed comrades, a former mediator with the militants has reportedly said.
According to The Telegraph, Shehu Sani, who has previously brokered face-to-face peace talks with Boko Haram said he believed that the video in which the group's leader Abubakar Shekaur threatened to sell the girls as "slaves" was proof that the group planned to use them as bargaining chips rather than kill them.
The video was released on Monday and showed Shekau gloating that he would sell the captives "in the market" to anyone wishing to take them as wives.
The mass kidnapping last month triggered an international outcry and protests in Nigeria, piling pressure on the government to get the girls back.
Sani warned that it could be dangerous to try to free the girls by force, adding the move could most likely turn tragic. He suggested channels of negotiation as the only way to have the girls freed.
Sani’s remarks come as world powers, including the United States and China joined in the search for the schoolgirls.
France said on Thursday that it would station about 3 000 troops in neighbouring Mali, Niger and Chad to help tackle militants in the Sahel region.