11 parents of Nigeria's abducted girls die

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Kidnapped Nigerian Girls
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11 parents of Nigeria's abducted girls die
A woman with a sticker on her head bearing the slogan 'Bring back our girls' marches for the release of the more than 200 abducted Chibok school girls in Lagos on May 29, 2014, during a demonstration by civil society groups and celebrities of the film and entertainment industries to press for the girls' release, seven weeks after their abduction by Islamist militant group Boko Haram, and on the occasion of Nigeria's Democracy Day. Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan vowed on May 29 total war against terrorism as the country's security forces stepped up efforts to rescue more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram Islamists 45 days ago. AFP PHOTO/PIUS UTOMI EKPEI (Photo credit should read PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 28: Students from Midreshet Shalhevet High School for Girls protest outside the Nigerian consulate for more action to be taken to rescue the school girls kidnapped by the extremist Islamist group Boko Haram In Nigeria on May 28, 2014 in New York City. More than 300 teenage girls were kidnapped by Boko Haram from their school in Chibok, Nigeria on April 15, 2014. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - MAY 17: French President Francois Hollande welcomes Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan (R) as the host of the security summit on Nigeria to discuss combating the dreaded Boko Haram militant group on May 17, Paris. Mustafa Sevgi-Anadolu Agency
PARIS, FRANCE - MAY 17: French President Francois Hollande (L2) welcomes the President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy (M) and Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan (R2) as the host of the security summit on Nigeria to discuss combating the dreaded Boko Haram militant group on May 17, Paris. Mustafa Sevgi-Anadolu Agency
PARIS, FRANCE - MAY 17: (L-R) Niger's president Mahamadou Issoufou, Cameroon's president Paul Biya, Nigeria's president Goodluck Jonathan, French president Francois Hollande, Chad's president Idriss Deby Itno and Benin's president Thomas Boni Yayi attend a joint press conference at the end of the Paris Summit for security in Nigeria, Saturday, May 17, 2014, at the Elysee Palace, in Paris, France.This African security summit is hold to discuss the Boko Haram threat to regional stability. (Photo by Thierry Chesnot/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - MAY 17: Tchad's President Idriss Deby is escorted by French president Francois Hollande as he leaves the African security summit on May 17, 2014, at the Elysee palace in Paris, France. The African security summit is being held to discuss the Boko Haram threat to regional stability. (Photo by Thierry Chesnot/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - MAY 17: (L-R) Niger's president Mahamadou Issoufou, Cameroon's president Paul Biya, Nigeria's president Goodluck Jonathan, French president Francois Hollande, Chad's president Idriss Deby Itno and Benin's president Thomas Boni Yayi attend a joint press conference at the end of the Paris Summit for security in Nigeria, Saturday, May 17, 2014, at the Elysee Palace, in Paris, France.This African security summit is hold to discuss the Boko Haram threat to regional stability. (Photo by Thierry Chesnot/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - MAY 17: (L to R) Nigeria's president Goodluck Jonathan (R) speaks with Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague (L) and US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman (C) prior a family photo during an African security summit on May 17, 2014, at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France. This African security summit is held to discuss the Boko Haram threat to regional stability. (Photo by Thierry Chesnot/Getty Images)
(LtoR) Niger's president Mahamadou Issoufou, Chad's president Idriss Deby Itno, Nigeria's president Goodluck Jonathan, France's president Francois Hollande, Cameroon's president Paul Biya, and Benin's president Thomas Boni Yayi pose for a photo during an African security summit to discuss the threat of Nigerian Islamist militant group Boko Haram to the regional stability, at the Elysee Palace in Paris on May 17, 2014. West African leaders met with French President Francois Hollande to bolster cooperation with Nigeria in its battle against Boko Haram Islamists after the abduction of 200 schoolgirls shocked the world. AFP PHOTO / ALAIN JOCARD (Photo credit should read ALAIN JOCARD/AFP/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - MAY 17: French President Francois Hollande (R) welcomes Cameroon's President Paul Biya (L) upon his arrival to an African security summit on May 17, 2014, at the Elysee palace in Paris, France. This African security summit is hold to discuss the Boko Haram threat to regional stability. (Photo by Thierry Chesnot/Getty Images)
Protestors hold placards as they demonstrate outside Nigeria House in central London on May 9, 2014, to demand the return of more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls abducted by the Boko Haram Islamist group. Nigeria's military had advanced warning of the April 14 attack by Boko Haram that led to the kidnapping of more than 200 schoolgirls but failed to take immediate action, Amnesty International said. AFP PHOTO/Leon Neal (Photo credit should read LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images)
US Secretary of State John Kerry speaks about the kidnapped school girls by the Nigerian terrorist organization Boko Haram, during a press availability at the US State Department in Washington, DC, May 8, 2014. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 09: Protesters calling for the release of a group of abducted Nigerian schoolgirls gather outside Nigeria House on May 9, 2014 in London, England. 276 schoolgirls were abducted from their boarding school on 14 April, 2014 in the town of Chibok in north-eastern Borno state in Nigeria. The abductions have sparked protests around the world calling for the release of the girls who are being held by the militant group Boko Haram. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Soldiers walk to block the advancing civil society groups protesting the abduction of Chibok school girls during a rally pressing for the girls' release in Abuja on May 6, 2014, ahead of World Economic Forum. Members of civil society groups marched through the streets of Abuja and to the Nigerian defence headquarters to meet with military chiefs, to press for the release of more than 200 Chibok school girls abducted three weeks ago. Suspected Boko Haram Islamists have kidnapped eight more girls from Nigeria's embattled northeast, residents said on May 6, after the extremist group's leader claimed responsibility for abducting more than 200 schoolgirls last month and said in a video he was holding them as 'slaves' and threatened to 'sell them in the market'. AFP PHOTO/PIUS UTOMI EKPEI (Photo credit should read PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images)
Members of civil society groups shout slogans to protest the abduction of Chibok school girls during a rally pressing for the girls' release in Abuja on May 6, 2014, ahead of World Economic Forum. Members of civil society groups marched through the streets of Abuja and to the Nigerian defence headquarters to meet with military chiefs, to press for the release of more than 200 Chibok school girls abducted three weeks ago. Suspected Boko Haram Islamists have kidnapped eight more girls from Nigeria's embattled northeast, residents said on May 6, after the extremist group's leader claimed responsibility for abducting more than 200 schoolgirls last month and said in a video he was holding them as 'slaves' and threatened to 'sell them in the market'. AFP PHOTO/PIUS UTOMI EKPEI (Photo credit should read PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images)
Leader of Chibok community in Abuja Hosea Sambido (R) raises a newspaper reporting the death of two of the abducted Chibok school girls during a rally pressing for the girls' release in Abuja on May 6, 2014, ahead of World Economic Forum. Members of civil society groups marched through the streets of Abuja and to the Nigerian defence headquarters to meet with military chiefs, to press for the release of more than 200 Chibok school girls abducted three weeks ago. Suspected Boko Haram Islamists have kidnapped eight more girls from Nigeria's embattled northeast, residents said on May 6, after the extremist group's leader claimed responsibility for abducting more than 200 schoolgirls last month and said in a video he was holding them as 'slaves' and threatened to 'sell them in the market'. AFP PHOTO/PIUS UTOMI EKPEI (Photo credit should read PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images)
One of the mothers of the missing Chibok school girls wipes her tears as she cries during a rally by civil society groups pressing for the release of the girls in Abuja on May 6, 2014, ahead of World Economic Forum. Members of civil society groups marched through the streets of Abuja and to the Nigerian defence headquarters to meet with military chiefs, to press for the release of more than 200 Chibok school girls abducted three weeks ago. Suspected Boko Haram Islamists have kidnapped eight more girls from Nigeria's embattled northeast, residents said on May 6, after the extremist group's leader claimed responsibility for abducting more than 200 schoolgirls last month and said in a video he was holding them as 'slaves' and threatened to 'sell them in the market'. AFP PHOTO/PIUS UTOMI EKPEI (Photo credit should read PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images)
A woman carries placard to press for the release of missing Chibok school girls during a rally by civil society in Lagos on May 5, 2014. Boko Haram on Monday claimed the abduction of hundreds of schoolgirls in northern Nigeria that has triggered international outrage, threatening to sell them as 'slaves'. 'I abducted your girls,' the Islamist group's leader Abubakar Shekau said in the 57-minute video obtained by AFP, referring to the 276 students kidnapped from their boarding school in Chibok, Borno state, three weeks ago. AFP PHOTO / PIUS UTOMI EKPEI (Photo credit should read PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images)
A policeman stand beside children holding as members of Lagos based civil society groups hold rally calling for the release of missing Chibok school girls at the state government house, in Lagos, Nigeria, on May 5, 2014. Boko Haram on Monday claimed the abduction of hundreds of schoolgirls in northern Nigeria that has triggered international outrage, threatening to sell them as 'slaves'. 'I abducted your girls,' the Islamist group's leader Abubakar Shekau said in the 57-minute video obtained by AFP, referring to the 276 students kidnapped from their boarding school in Chibok, Borno state, three weeks ago. AFP PHOTO / PIUS UTOMI EKPEI (Photo credit should read PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images)
Women sit as they gather on May 8, 2014 during a meeting called by Congafen (the Coordination of the NGOs and Nigerien women associations) at the Youth house in Niamey, western Niger, to ask the United Nations (UN) to pursue in justice Boko Haram Islamists who are responsible for the abduction of more than 200 schoolgirls. Nigeria's president said today that Boko Haram's mass abduction of the schoolgirls in Nigeria would mark a turning point in the battle against the Islamists, as world powers joined the search to rescue the hostages. A few days before Boko Haram chief Abubakar Shekau claimed responsibility in a video, saying his extreme Islamist group was holding the schoolgirls as 'slaves' and threatening to 'sell them in the market'. AFP PHOTO / BOUREIMA HAMA (Photo credit should read BOUREIMA HAMA/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture taken on April 3, 2014 in Maine-Soroa, eastern Niger, shows Nigerian children standing near a tent at a camp for refugees who fled the fighting between the Nigerian army and the Islamist rebels of Boko Haram. AFP PHOTO / STR (Photo credit should read BOUREIMA HAMA/AFP/Getty Images)
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By MICHELLE FAUL
Associated Press

LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) -- In the three months since Islamic extremists kidnapped more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls, 11 of their parents have died, town residents say.

The town where the girls were kidnapped, Chibok, is cut off by militants, who have been attacking villages in the region.

Seven fathers of kidnapped girls were among 51 bodies brought to the Chibok hospital after an attack on the nearby village of Kautakari this month, said a health worker who insisted on anonymity for fear of reprisals by the extremists.

At least four more parents have died of heart failure, high blood pressure and other illnesses that the community blames on trauma due to the mass abduction 100 days ago, said community leader Pogu Bitrus, who provided their names.

"One father of two of the girls kidnapped just went into a kind of coma and kept repeating the names of his daughters, until life left him," said Bitrus.

President Goodluck Jonathan met Tuesday with parents of the 219 kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls and some classmates who managed to escape from Islamic extremists. Jonathan pledged to continue working to see the girls "are brought out alive," said his spokesman of the meeting which press were not permitted to attend. The parents showed no emotion after the meeting, but some shook hands with the president.

Chibok, the town where the girls were kidnapped, is cut off because of frequent attacks on the roads that are studded with burned out vehicles. Commercial flights no longer go into the troubled area and the government has halted charter flights.

Through numerous phone calls to Chibok and the surrounding area, The Associated Press has gathered information about the situation in the town where the students were kidnapped from their school.

More danger is on the horizon.

Boko Haram is closing in on Chibok, attacking villages ever closer to the town. Villagers who survive the assaults are swarming into the town, swelling its population and straining resources. A food crisis looms, along with shortages of money and fuel, said community leader Bitrus.

On the bright side, some of the young women who escaped are recovering, said a health worker, who insisted on anonymity because he feared reprisals from Boko Haram. Girls who had first refused to discuss their experience, now are talking about it and taking part in therapeutic singing and drawing - a few drew homes, some painted flowers and one young woman drew a picture of a soldier with a gun last week.

Girls who said they would never go back to school now are thinking about how to continue their education, he said.

Counseling is being offered to families of those abducted and to some of the 57 students who managed to escape in the first few days, said the health worker. He is among 36 newly trained in grief and rape counseling, under a program funded by USAID.

All the escapees remain deeply concerned about their schoolmates who did not get away.

A presidential committee investigating the kidnappings said 219 girls still are missing. But the community says there are more because some parents refused to give the committee their daughters' names, fearing the stigma involved.

Boko Haram filmed a video in which they threatened to sell the students into slavery and as child brides. It also showed a couple of the girls describing their "conversion" from Christianity to Islam.

At least two have died of snake bites, a mediator who was liaising with Boko Haram told AP two months ago. At that time he said at least 20 of the girls were ill - not surprising given that they are probably being held in an area infested with malarial mosquitoes, poisonous snakes and spiders, and relying on unclean water from rivers.

Most of the schoolgirls are still believed to be held in the Sambisa Forest - a wildlife reserve that includes almost impenetrably thick jungle as well as more open savannah. The forest borders on sand dunes marking the edge of the Sahara Desert. Sightings of the girls and their captors have been reported in neighboring Cameroon and Chad.

In Chibok, the town's population is under stress.

"There are families that are putting up four and five other families," local leader Bitrus said, adding that food stocks are depleted. Livestock has been looted by Boko Haram so villagers are arriving empty handed. Worst of all, no one is planting though it is the rainy season, he said.

"There is a famine looming," he warned.

Chibok and nearby villages are targets because they are enclaves of staunch Christians in predominantly Muslim north Nigeria.

The number of soldiers guarding Chibok has increased from 15 to about 200 since the kidnapping but they have done little to increase security in Chibok, said Bitrus. The soldiers often refuse to deploy to villages under attack though there is advance warning 90 percent of the time, he said.

Last month the extremists took control and raised their black flags over two villages within 30 kilometers (18 miles) of Chibok. Last week they ordered residents of another village just 16 kilometers (10 miles) away to clear out, Bitrus said. Every village in the neighboring Damboa area has been attacked and sacked, and all the villages bordering Cameroon have been burned and are deserted, Bitrus said, quoting residents who fled.

The attacks continue despite the fact the military placed the area under a state of emergency in May 2013.

Residents feel so abandoned that they appealed this month for the United Nations to send troops to protect them. The U.N. has repeatedly urged Nigeria's government to live up to its international responsibility to protect citizens.

President Goodluck Jonathan insists his government and military are doing everything possible to ensure the girls' release. The Defense Ministry says it knows where they are but fears any military campaign could lead to their deaths.

Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau in a new video released this week repeated his demands that Jonathan release detained extremists in exchange for the girls - an offer Jonathan has so far refused.

After three months, few Chibok residents believe all the schoolgirls will ever return home.

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