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Protests continue over kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls

Protesters for the ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ campaign continued to gather in Abuja, Nigeria, on Saturday (May 10) to call for the urgent rescue of around 200 schoolgirls who were abducted by Islamist rebels, Boko Haram, last month.

The attack has been condemned globally, including by U.S. first lady Michelle Obama on Saturday. But in Abuja, protest co-ordinator Hadiza Bala Usman said numbers are likely to fall as some locals fear the campaign may be seen “to be challenging the government”.

“We see a situation where the first lady had threatened someone to be fired from their job because of participating in the protest, that would reduce the number of people that come out,” said Bala Usman.

“Some of us will relent and we will remain on the streets until we see a decisive rescue operation,” she added.

The government of President Goodluck Jonathan has faced criticism for its slow response since Boko Haram militants stormed a secondary school in the village of Chibok, near the Cameroon border, on April 14, and kidnapped the girls, who were taking exams. Fifty have escaped but more than 200 remain with the insurgents.

The United States, Britain, France, China and international police agency Interpol have all offered assistance.

Media co-ordinator for the ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ campaign, Rotimi Olawale said on Saturday, “We think that the momentum is right, we know that international military are combining with the Nigerian forces to ensure that the search is going on and we are sure that… I’m happy and optimistic, I even want to hear news today that our girls are found.”

Jonathan on Friday said he believed the schoolgirls remained in Nigeria and had not been transported into Cameroon. It was the first indication he has given of their whereabouts.