Nigerian parents and teachers have identified 77 of the more than 130 abducted girls shown in a video message by Islamist extremist group Boko Haram, local newspaper Vanguard reported on Wednesday.
“The girls in the video have been identified by their names at an exercise that involved some parents of the girls, fellow students that included escapees from abduction, some teachers, security men and some officials of the Borno State government,” Borno State governor Kashim Shettima said.
The identification process was still ongoing, Mr. Shettima added.
Earlier this week, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau distributed a video message demanding that the government release all detained insurgents across Nigeria in exchange for the girls. Some of them have been given long prison sentences for terrorism.
The video showed about 130 of the girls, who were abducted on April 14 in the northern village of Chibok in Borno State, wearing veils and reciting the Holy Quran.
Nigerian authorities made available the video to the girls’ parents, relatives, teachers and friends in the hope of identifying them.
The video message was also copied onto numerous mobile storage devices so it could be distributed widely.
Nigerian police have offered a reward of 50 million naira (310,000 dollars) to anyone providing a lead on the girls’ whereabouts.
In addition, the government is studying the video for clues on the whereabouts of the mostly Christian girls.
Meanwhile, the search for the kidnapped teenagers continues, with the United States flying manned surveillance missions over West Africa’s most populous nation.
The US is also sharing commercial satellite imagery with the Nigerian government.
Nigeria’s military has deployed two divisions to the nation’s borders with Cameroon, Chad and Niger to prevent Boko Haram from transporting any of the girls out of the country.