Thursday 18 December 2014

Suspected Boko Haram gunmen kidnap 20 women in north-east Nigeria

Published 09/06/2014 | 17:23

A police officer stands guard as people attend a demonstration calling on the government to rescue the kidnapped girls of the government secondary school in Chibok, in Abuja, Nigeria. Scores of protesters chanting "Bring Back Our Girls" marched in the Nigerian capital Thursday as many schools across the country closed to protest the abductions of more than 300 schoolgirls by Boko Haram, the government's failure to rescue them and the killings of scores of teachers by Islamic extremists in recent years.
A police officer stands guard as people attend a demonstration calling on the government to rescue the kidnapped girls of the government secondary school in Chibok, in Abuja, Nigeria. Scores of protesters chanting "Bring Back Our Girls" marched in the Nigerian capital Thursday as many schools across the country closed to protest the abductions of more than 300 schoolgirls by Boko Haram, the government's failure to rescue them and the killings of scores of teachers by Islamic extremists in recent years.

Suspected Boko Haram gunmen have reportedly kidnapped 20 women from a nomadic settlement in north-east Nigeria near the town of Chibok, where the Islamic militants abducted more than 300 schoolgirls and young women on April 15.

Alhaji Tar, a member of the vigilante groups set up to resist Boko Haram's attacks, said the men arrived at noon on Thursday in the Garkin Fulani settlement and forced the women to enter their vehicles at gunpoint. He said they drove away to an unknown location in the remote stretch of Borno state.

Mr Tar said the group also took three young men who tried to stop the kidnapping.

"We tried to go after them when the news got to us about three hours later, but the vehicles we have could not go far, and the report came to us a little bit late," he said.

In another incident, the defence headquarters said that troops prevented raids by Boko Haram this weekend on villages in Borno and neighbouring Adamawa state. Soldiers killed more than 50 militants on Saturday night as they were on their way to attack communities, defence spokesman Chris Oluklade said.

The Nigerian military has come under rising criticism from Nigerians who say they are not protected by the security forces, left to fend off attacks by Boko Haram on their own.

Boko Haram, which wants to establish an Islamic state in Nigeria, has been taking over villages in the north east, killing and terrorising civilians and political leaders. Thousands of people have been killed in the five-year-old insurgency, more than 2,000 people have been killed so far this year, and an estimated 750,000 Nigerians have been driven from their homes.

In recent weeks, the extremists have used a two-pronged strategy and widened their theatre of operation beyond the remote north east of the country. The group has bombed bus stations and marketplaces in three cities, killing about 250 people, and they are staging daily attacks on north-east villages, killing 20 people one day, and 50 another.

In one incident last week, the militants reportedly killed hundreds of civilians in three villages in the Gwoza local government. Residents said they had requested the military sends troops to protect the area after hearing Boko Haram militants were about to attack, but they said help never came.

The extremists abducted more than 300 girls from the Chibok Government Girls School on April 15, according to police. Chibok community leader Pogu Bitrus says 57 girls escaped, leaving an estimated 272 still held captive.

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