Video appears to show Nigerian schoolgirls praying

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In this photo taken from video by Nigeria’s Boko Haram terrorist network, Monday May 12, 2014 shows the alleged missing girls abducted from the northeastern town of Chibok. The new video purports to show dozens of abducted schoolgirls, covered in jihab and praying in Arabic. It is the first public sight of the girls since more than 300 were kidnapped from a northeastern school the night of April 14 exactly four weeks ago. (AP Photo)

In this photo taken from video by Nigeria’s Boko Haram terrorist network, Monday May 12, 2014 shows the alleged missing girls abducted from the northeastern town of Chibok. The new video purports to show dozens of abducted schoolgirls, covered in jihab and praying in Arabic. It is the first public sight of the girls since more than 300 were kidnapped from a northeastern school the night of April 14 exactly four weeks ago. (AP Photo)

In this photo taken from video by Nigeria’s Boko Haram terrorist network, Monday May 12, 2014 shows their leader Abubakar Shekau speaking to the camera. The new video purports to show dozens of abducted schoolgirls, covered in jihab and praying in Arabic. It is the first public sight of the girls since more than 300 were kidnapped from a northeastern school the night of April 14 exactly four weeks ago. (AP Photo)

In this photo taken from video by Nigeria’s Boko Haram terrorist network, Monday May 12, 2014 shows the alleged missing girls abducted from the northeastern town of Chibok. The new video purports to show dozens of abducted schoolgirls, covered in jihab and praying in Arabic. It is the first public sight of the girls since more than 300 were kidnapped from a northeastern school the night of April 14 exactly four weeks ago. (AP Photo)

Brig. Gen. Chris Olukolade, Nigeria’s top military spokesman, speaks during a press conference on the abducted school girls in Abuja, Nigeria, Monday, May 12, 2014. A Nigerian Islamic extremist leader says nearly 300 abducted schoolgirls will not be seen again until the government frees his detained fighters. A new video from Nigeria’s homegrown Boko Haram terrorist network received Monday purports to show some of the girls and young women chanting Quranic verses in Arabic. The barefoot girls look frightened and sad and sit huddled together wearing gray Muslim veils. Some Christians among them say they have converted to Islam. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

Marilyn Ogar, Secret police spokeswoman, left, Brig. Gen. Chris Olukolade, Nigeria’s top military spokesman, 2nd left, Mike Omeri, Director General, National Orientation Agency, 2nd right, and Frank Mba, National police spokesman, attend a press conference on the abducted school girls in Abuja, Nigeria, Monday, May 12, 2014. A Nigerian Islamic extremist leader says nearly 300 abducted schoolgirls will not be seen again until the government frees his detained fighters. A new video from Nigeria’s homegrown Boko Haram terrorist network received Monday purports to show some of the girls and young women chanting Quranic verses in Arabic. The barefoot girls look frightened and sad and sit huddled together wearing gray Muslim veils. Some Christians among them say they have converted to Islam. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

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LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) — Looking sad and frightened, dozens of barefoot girls sat huddled together wearing gray Muslim veils as they chanted Quranic verses in Arabic. Some Christians among them said they had converted to Islam.

In the video released Monday, the Boko Haram terrorist network offered the first public glimpse of what it claimed were some of the nearly 300 girls kidnapped from a Nigerian school a month ago — and issued an ominous threat. The girls will not be seen again, the group’s leader said menacingly, until the government frees his imprisoned fighters.

“I swear to almighty Allah, you will not see them again until you release our brothers that you have captured,” Abubakar Shekau warned, an assault rifle slung across his chest.

It is not known how many suspected Boko Haram members are detained by security forces. Hundreds were killed last month when Shekau’s fighters stormed the military’s main northeastern barracks in Maiduguri, the birthplace of Boko Haram and the headquarters of a year-old military state of emergency to put down the 5-year-old Islamic uprising.

In the video, two of the girls were singled out for questioning.

“Why have you become a Muslim?” one girl, who looked to be in her early teens, was asked.

“The reason why I became a Muslim is because the path we are on is not the right path,” the girl said, nervously shifting her body from side to side, her eyes darting back and forth.

“We should enter the right path so that Allah will be happy with us,” added the girl, who said her name had been changed to Halima because she had converted from Christianity to Islam. Like the other girls, she wore a bulky gray hijab that covered her body from head to toe, revealing only her face.

A second girl, who appeared to be in her mid-teens, was asked if she or any of the others had been mistreated. No, she said, adding that they had experienced nothing “except righteousness.”

As the girls chanted Islamic verses, some clasped their hands together in what appeared to be the Christian style of prayer before quickly turning their palms upward, as Muslim worshippers do.

The girls’ families have said most of those seized April 15 from a school in the northeastern town of Chibok are Christians.

It was impossible to fully authenticate the video, though parents were trying to turn on a generator in Chibok, hoping to watch the video and identify their daughters, said a town leader, Pogu Bitrus.

“There’s an atmosphere of hope — hope that these girls are alive, whether they have been forced to convert to Islam or not,” he told The Associated Press by telephone. “We want to be able to say, ‘These are our girls.’”

The video showed

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