Thu, Jun 26, 2014 - Page 1 News List

Boko Haram abducts over 60 women, girls in Nigeria

AFP, MAIDUGURI, Nigeria

A member of the Abuja “Bring Back Our Girls” protest group addresses a sit-in demonstration at the Unity Fountain in Abuja on Monday.

Photo: Reuters

Suspected Boko Haram militants have abducted more than 60 women and girls, some as young as three, in the latest kidnappings in northeast Nigeria, more than two months since more than 200 schoolgirls were seized.

Analysts said the kidnapping, which happened during a raid late on Monday on Kummabza Village in the Damboa District of Borno State, could be an attempt by the Islamist group to refocus attention on its demands for the release of its jailed militant fighters.

Boko Haram has indicated that it would be willing to release the 219 schoolgirls it has held hostage since April 14 in exchange for the freedom of its brothers in arms currently being held in Nigerian jails.

Abuja initially refused to sanction any deal, but efforts have since been made to open talks with the group, with a possible prisoner swap part of discussions.

The Nigerian military said in a tweet late on Monday that it could not confirm the latest abductions, and spokesmen were not immediately available for comment when contacted by reporters on Tuesday.

Borno Senator Ali Ndume confirmed the latest abductions, and said Boko Haram “took advantage” of people returning to the area to check on their farms during flooding when there was no military presence in the area.

“Boko Haram selected young males and females” as hostages and “left the elderly,” he said, amid local media reports that about 30 young boys may have also been taken.

“Over 60 women were hijacked and forcefully taken away by the terrorists,” a senior officer in the Damboa local government said.

“The village was also destroyed,” he said, adding that “among those abducted are children between the ages of three and 12.”

“Over 60 women were abducted by Boko Haram terrorists,” said Aji Khalil, a local vigilante leader.

“Four villagers who tried to escape were shot dead on the spot,” he added.

Damboa local government officials said they were afraid to speak out because of the controversy surrounding the Chibok abductions in April, with Nigeria’s government coming under heavy criticism for its slow response.

News of the abductions came as locals in three villages of the Askira Uba District, about 60km to the south, said they had been attacked over the weekend.

Resident Emos Ali said “many” people had died, although no official toll was available.

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