Group rallies for safe return of Nigerian hostages - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Group rallies for safe return of Nigerian hostages

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People gathered in Tuscumbia Tuesday to lend prayers and support for the hundreds of girls held captive in Nigeria. People gathered in Tuscumbia Tuesday to lend prayers and support for the hundreds of girls held captive in Nigeria.

As an impasse prevents the release of nearly 300 schoolgirls abducted by Islamic extremists in Nigeria, a group in Tuscumbia met Tuesday night to add theirs to the tens of thousands demanding to "Bring Our Girls Back."

A human rights activist close to mediators told the Associated Press that a swap of detained extremists for the girls was negotiated a week ago but fell through, with the president of the country reportedly ruling out that option.

"I'll tell you one thing: anytime you mess with children, you get my attention," said Tuscumbia City Councilman George Johnson. "I just don't go for that."

Johnson was one of dozens present at Tuesday's rally to offer prayers and support for the families of each girl detained in Nigeria.

"I saw the mothers' pain," said Nikita Thompson of the group Helping with Wholeness. "I thought about myself at their age… and I wondered how I would feel and what I would do."

Thompson said a further purpose of the rally was to raise awareness about the girls' plight. She cited a video, purportedly of a militant claiming to sell the girls off for "as low as 12 American dollars," as the catalyst for action.

"I think when one part of the world has a problem, it's our problem," she said. "We have some sisters in another country going through something and we need to be supportive of them."

Also involved is Tuscumbia-area Rape Response, on the theory that rape is likely part of the young victims' mistreatment. Military experts have said that any American action to rescue the young girls could be a violent and bloody job, something people at the rally said may be well called for.

"If they have to be aggressive because they're fighting some very vicious people, they have to be aggressive," said Thompson.

Supporter Tatyana Whiteside echoed the sentiments of many when she said she hopes the girls are rescued soon, and their captors sent to prison.

"It's tragic," said Whiteside. "It's hard thinking of their parents and how they feel and what they must be going through. Hopefully they'll reunite with their families."

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