Saturday 27 December 2014

Toddlers among 91 abducted in Nigeria

Anna Karling Maiduguri

Published 25/06/2014 | 02:30

The schoolgirls who were kidnapped by Nigeria's Boko Haram terrorist network. Photo: AP Photo
The schoolgirls who were kidnapped by Nigeria's Boko Haram terrorist network three months ago . Photo: AP Photo

NIGERIAN terrorists have abducted 91 more people, including toddlers as young as three, in attacks on villages in Nigeria, witnesses said yesterday.

The abductions are further evidence of the military's failure to curb an Islamic uprising and the government's inability to provide security.

The kidnappings come less than three months after more than 200 schoolgirls were taken in a mass abduction that embarrassed Nigeria's government and military because of their slow response. Those girls are still being held captive.

The most recent victims included 60 girls and women, some of whom were married, and 31 boys, witnesses said.

A local official confirmed the abductions, but security forces denied them.

There was no way to safely and independently confirm the report from Kummabza, 150km from Maiduguri, capital of Borno state and headquarters of a military state of emergency that has failed to curtail near-daily attacks by Boko Haram fighters.

Vigilante leader Aji Khalil said yesterday the abductions took place Saturday in an attack that killed four villagers. Khalil lives in Maiduguri but gets reports daily from other vigilante groups that have had some success in repelling Boko Haram with primitive weapons.

A senior councillor from the village's Damboa local government told the Associated Press that abductions had occurred but spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to give information to reporters. He said the reports came from elderly survivors of the attack who had walked some 25km to the relative safety of other villages.

An intelligence officer with Nigeria's Department of State Security also said there had been a mass abduction, but he said it occurred in Kummabza and three nearby villages between June 13 and 15, and that no one knows the actual number abducted. He also spoke on the condition of anonymity.

There was no way to reconcile the confusion, which also surrounded the first mass abduction in mid-April.

Several prominent Nigerians questioned whether those abductions had taken place, including first lady Patience Jonathan, who claimed the reports were fabricated.

John Campbell, a former US ambassador to Nigeria who is an analyst with the Council of Foreign Relations, predicted that kidnappings would continue because, for Boko Haram, the strategy has been "remarkably successful: It focuses attention on the shortcomings of the Nigerian government."

Irish Independent

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