Over 60 Nigerian Women and Girls Kidnapped by Boko Haram; Militants Went Door-to-Door and Left “Bride Money” Behind

People march in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, calling on the government to rescue the schoolgirls abducted from Chibok in April. (Photograph: Olamikan Gbemiga/AP)
People march in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, calling on the government to rescue the schoolgirls abducted from Chibok in April. (Photograph: Olamikan Gbemiga/AP)

Sixty women and girls have been kidnapped from two towns in north-east Nigeria, according to reports, dealing a fresh blow to government claims of a truce with the Islamist militant group Boko Haram.

Residents of the town of Wagga told Agence France-Presse that suspected Islamist gunmen had gone door-to-door looking for young women and girls and abducted 40 of them.

Lazarus Baushe, an elder of the Wagga community, said: “They left 1,500 naira (£5.67) and some kola nuts in each home where they seized a woman, apparently as a bride price.”

Wagga is close to the town of Chibok, where nearly 300 girls were kidnapped by Boko Haram in April, triggering worldwide outrage and online activism. Some 219 are still missing.

Enoch Mark, a priest from Chibok who previously worked in Wagga, told AFP that an estimated 40 women and girls had been taken in the recent raid, an account supported by several others.

Witnesses in Gwarta separately reported a kidnapping at the weekend involving another 20 female victims, but details were not immediately clear.

The raids will intensify scepticism over a government announcement last Friday that it had achieved a ceasefire with Boko Haram, ending a five-year insurgency that has left more than 10,000 people dead. A senior aide to the president, Goodluck Jonathan, claimed the extremist group, which has been seeking to create an Islamic state in northern Nigeria, had agreed to release the 219 schoolgirls.

But Bulus Mungo Park, a volunteer vigilante fighter in Chibok, said on Thursday: “This is not the first time they have declared a truce. I don’t know if it’s going to be real. They have tried to hold dialogues before but it didn’t work. They had a ceasefire but there were still attacks in some places, so we can only pray.”

Violence continued unabated over the weekend. On Wednesday a bomb blast at a bus station in the town of Azare in Bauchi state killed five people – their bodies “burnt beyond recognition” – and injured 12 others, according to the police spokesman Mohammed Haruna.

Several witnesses said they believed the bomb had been planted in a parked car. The Azare resident Musa Babale said the explosion “shook buildings” and sent residents running for shelter. “The whole place was a mess,” he told AFP. No one claimed responsibility, but Bauchi has been a frequent target of Boko Haram attacks.

There has been no comment so far from Boko Haram’s purported leader Abubakar Shekau and hopes voiced by the presidency that the girls would be released by Tuesday this week came to nothing.

Mike Omeri, a spokesman for the Nigerian government, said the reported kidnappings had taken place in a remote area and were still being investigated. He denied that they showed the truce was void, suggesting that they could have been carried out by opportunist groups other than Boko Haram.

Nigerian negotiators are reportedly set to resume talks with Boko Haram representatives in neighbouring Chad next week.

SOURCE: , Africa correspondent 
The Guardian


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