With over 400 days of captivity, some of the schoolgirls kidnapped in Chibok, Nigeria, may now be taking orders from their captors in the terror group Boko Haram, witnesses are telling Amnesty International.
Witnesses say some are being used to terrorize other captives, and are even carrying out killings themselves.
The testimony cannot be verified but Amnesty International says other girls kidnapped by Boko Haram have been forced to fight.
Boko Haram has killed some 5,500 civilians in Nigeria since 2014.
Despite claims by the previous Nigerian government that the girls would be saved, over 200 schoolgirls are still missing, more than a year after they were dragged from their school in northern Nigeria. Many of those seized are Christians.
Three women who claim they were held in the same camps as some of the Chibok girls told the BBC’s Panorama program that some of them appeared to have been brainwashed and are now carrying out punishments on behalf of the militants.
Seventeen-year-old Miriam (not her real name) fled Boko Haram after being held for six months. She was forced to marry a militant, and is now pregnant with his child.
Recounting her first days in the camp she said: “They told to us get ready, that they were going to marry us off… They came back with four men and slit their throats in front of us. They then said that this will happen to any girl that refuses to get married.”
It is not possible to independently verify Miriam’s claims. But human rights group Amnesty International said their research also shows that some girls abducted by Boko Haram have been trained to fight.
Dr Fatima Akilu, a British-trained psychologist, is in charge of Nigeria’s counter-violence and extremism program. She is currently looking after around 300 of the recently rescued women and children.
“We have not seen signs of radicalisation,” she said. “But if it did occur we would not be surprised…
In situations where people have been held, there have been lots of stories where they have identified with their captors.”
“When we started the program, we didn’t really have any experience of anything other than military solutions,” said Dr Akilu. “The challenge is to look into what Boko Haram’s message is, and how we can get a different one across.”
Boys are also in the program run by Dr. Akilu who writes children’s books with an educational theme. “We find a lot of the young guys who are in prison on suspicion of Boko Haram activity have stunted abilities to think logically,” said Ms Akilu, who said she visits inmates regularly.
“If you are a true Muslim and have some interpretation of Islam you can debunk this stuff, but if not, then you may be susceptible to it.”