Sarah Lawan, 19, a science student, spoke Sunday as Nigerians prayed for the safety of the 276 students still held captive. Their prayers were joined by Pope Francis.
Lawan said more girls could have escaped but they were frightened by their captors’ threats to shoot them.
The failure to rescue those who remain captive four weeks later has attracted mounting national and international outrage. More experts are expected in Nigeria to help rescue the girls, including U.S. hostage negotiators, and others from Britain, France, China and Spain.
Police say 53 students have escaped. Nigeria’s homegrown Boko Haram terrorist network is threatening to sell those who remain into slavery.
Nigerians prayed Sunday for the girls, whose plight has brought together ordinary people in a year that had seen growing dissension between Muslims and Christians, exacerbated by the increasingly deadly attacks of the Boko Haram terrorist network.
Boko Haram claimed two bomb blasts that killed about 100 people and wounded more than 200 in the capital last month.
Britain said it hopes to help rescue the girls, and to halt the 5-year-old Islamic uprising that has killed thousands of Muslims and Christians and driven 750,000 people from their homes.
U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said “We’re going to bring to bear every asset we can possibly use,” but “there’s no intention at this point to put any American boots on the ground.”