Militants Reportedly Kidnap Women and Children in Borno StateJune 26, 2014 in Nigeria
Unconfirmed reports indicated Wednesday that suspected Boko Haram militants have abducted more than sixty women and young girls in the restive northeastern region of Nigeria. If confirmed by officials, the latest abduction will likely fuel further public frustration over the Nigerian government’s inability to end the five-year insurgency.
The latest mass kidnapping to hit Nigeria reportedly occurred during a raid last week in Kummabza village in the Damboa district of Borno state, which left at least thirty people dead. Although Nigeria’s defense headquarters in Abuja indicated on Monday that it was “yet to confirm the several reports on the abduction of girls in Borno as of now,” a senior officer in the Damboa local government did state “over 60 women were hijacked and forcefully taken away by the terrorists,” adding “the village was also destroyed. Some of the survivors of the attack, who do not have means of transporting themselves, especially old women and men, trekked to Lassa, in the Askira-Uba local government area of Borno state, 25 kilometers away….Others went to Gulak in Adamawa state, where they are now taking refuge.”
A security source indicated late Tuesday that Nigerian security forces are investigating reports of the mass kidnapping in villages located in the northeastern state of Borno, where Boko Haram militants abducted more than 200 schoolgirls two months ago. Sources have indicated that military officials are currently looking into reports that suspected Islamist insurgents raided at least three villages over the weekend, located 100 kilometers (60 miles) from the state capital Maiduguri. Nigerian media are reporting that as many as 91 villagers had been kidnapped, most of them women and young girls, however these reports have not been verified. While the militant group, which has killed thousands in bomb and gun attacks, was initially focused on targeting government and security targets as well as churches and those Muslim leaders who rejected their brand of Islam, recently, Boko Haram militants have increasingly been targeting civilians, gaining global attention when they kidnapped more than 200 girls from a school in the remote Borno village of Chibok in April.
The abductions are the latest to take place in the state of Borno, which has been the worst affected by the militant group’s five-year insurgency. On April 14, Boko Haram militants kidnapped more than 200 teenaged girls from their dormitories at a boarding school in Chibok while on June 7, at least 20 young mothers from a nomadic settlement in and around the village of Garkin Fulani were also reportedly kidnapped, however it has since been claimed that their disappearances could be due to annual migration. Last week’s kidnappings are believed to be an attempt by the militant group to refocus attention on its demands for the release of militant fighters. Boko Haram has indicated that it would be willing to release the 219 schoolgirls in exchange for the freedom of its fighters who are currently being held in Nigerian jails.
Meanwhile in a separate incident, unidentified gunmen have killed at least thirty-eight people, mostly women and children, in raids that targeted two villages in northern Kaduna state, an area of the country that has been plagued by years of sectarian conflict. According to the head of the area’s local government, Emmanuel Adamu Danzaria, the late Monday attacks targeted the remote villages of Fadan Karshi and Nandu, in the southern region of Kaduna state, adding, “twenty-one people were killed in Karshi and 17 others were killed in Nandu. We are yet to identify those behind the attacks.” Ahmed Maiyaki, spokesman for Kaduna Governor Mukhtar Yero, confirmed the attacks and the death toll however he declined to discuss which group may have been responsible. Kaduna, which has a religiously divided capital city, has seen waves of violence that has often involved the area’s Christians and Muslims, with the unrest often being sparked by elections and other political disputes. Following Nigeria’s 2011 polls, hundreds were killed in Kaduna. Separately, in rural areas, bloodshed has been linked to fighting over land, which has erupted between agrarian groups and a tribe of composed of mainly nomadic herdsmen, the Fulani.