A 15-year-old girl can dream about her future again after a harrowing escape from her abductors. The teenager survived seven weeks in the custody of Islamic terrorists Boko Haram, who kidnapped her in October from her home in northern Nigeria.
Near noon on Oct. 29, 2014, Boko Haram militants ambushed Mubi, the city where Abigail lived with her family. The teenager’s mother, Rebecca John, was away visiting her sister when her daughter and a group of others were captured by Boko Haram militants. Abigail’s brother, Lucky, was also abducted. Their mother would spend the next two months wondering if either of her children was alive. As Abigail was dragged away from her home, she “saw so many corpses of men.”
Through this attack, Boko Haram conquered Mubi and established their claim on the city. They renamed the city “Madinatul Islam” or City of Islam, and added the city to several cities the militant group has captured in an effort to establish an Islamic caliphate in northern Nigeria.
In the raid, the men were killed, while women and children were abducted and taken to a large house. That evening, the kidnappers fed their captives and treated them well. After breakfast the next morning, one of the Boko Haram members “started preaching Islam to us,” said Abigail.
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The day’s lesson was suddenly interrupted when a Nigerian military jet dropped a bomb close to the building. A second jet could be heard in the distance, so the terrorists forced Abigail and the others into the main room of the building. Moments later, the house took a direct hit. One of the Boko Haram members was killed, in addition to five women and a child. Many of the hostages were injured by flying shrapnel.
“Those [kidnap victims] who were not affected by the bomb managed to escape,” Abigail said, but she was badly injured. She was taken by her captors to a clinic, where she saw one woman have her leg amputated and she received minor treatment for her broken arm.
After treatment, Boko Haram moved Abigail to a new location. As she recovered, “They did not try to Islamize those of us who were injured, although they kept preaching to us and gave us Muslim names. My name was changed from Abigail to Zainab.”