Vigils for Nigerian schoolgirls held across North West

Vigil for Nigerian schoolgirls held in Liverpool Image copyright Alison McGovern
Image caption The Liverpool vigil was at the bombed out St Luke's church in the city

Vigils have taken across north-west England to highlight the plight of schoolgirls kidnapped in Nigeria.

Militant Islamist group Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for taking the teenagers from their boarding school in April.

The vigils in Liverpool, Manchester and Bolton all started at 13:00 BST.

Liverpool organiser Tracey Hylton said campaigners wanted politicians to increase pressure on Nigeria to get the girls home.

Boko Haram has said the girls should not have been in school and should get married instead. It has threatened to "sell" the students.

Social media campaign

The group, whose name means "Western education is forbidden" in the Hausa language, began its insurgency in Borno state in 2009.

The Liverpool vigil was at the bombed out St Luke's church in the city.

Campaigners have held a second vigil in Piccadilly Gardens in Manchester.

The first vigil there on Tuesday was joined by former Coronation Street star Julie Hesmondhalgh.

Organiser Colette Williams said it was important to keep the fate of the girls in the public eye.

"Even in Manchester Piccadilly Gardens on Tuesday there were an enormous amount of people who didn't know about the issue," she said.

The Bolton vigil was held outside the town hall.

A social media campaign, Bring Back Our Girls, has been launched in the UK.

US First Lady Michelle Obama has said the mass kidnap of Nigerian schoolgirls is part of a wider pattern of threats and intimidation facing girls around the world who pursue an education.

Experts from the US and UK, including military advisers, negotiators and counsellors, arrived in Nigeria on Friday to help find the girls.

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