Friday 20 April 2018

Nigeria schoolgirls kidnap: ‘Scores’ of Boko Haram killed after villagers launch vigilante ambush

Locals have taken matters into their own hands because they felt the military was not doing enough to stem attacks by the Islamic militants

Villagers in an area of Nigeria where Boko Haram operates have killed and detained scores of the extremist Islamic militants behind the kidnapping of more than 270 schoolgirls.

Residents in northern states have been forming vigilante groups to resist the militants who have held the girls captive since last month.

In Kalabalge, a village 155 miles from the Borno state capital of Maiduguri, residents said they were taking matters into their own hands because the military was not doing enough to stem Boko Haram attacks.

On Tuesday morning, after learning about an impending attack by militants, locals ambushed two trucks with gunmen, a security official said. At least 10 militants were detained, and scores were reportedly killed. It was not immediately clear where the militants were being held.

The news emerged amid reports that a British-born suspected member of Boko Haram had been arrested in Sudan. Named as Aminu Sadiq Ogwuche, Nigerian officials said they had issued an international arrest warrant for Mr Ogwuche, as well as another man, Rufai Abubakar Tsiga, who they suspect of plotting two recent bombings in the capital, Abuja, that killed dozens.

Ajid Musa, a Kalabalge trader, said that after residents organised the vigilante group it had become “impossible” for militants to successfully stage attacks there.

“That is why most attacks by the Boko Haram on our village continued (to) fail because they cannot come in here and start shooting and killing people,” he said. Earlier this year in other parts of Borno, where the girls were abducted last month, some extremists launched more attacks in retaliation over the vigilante groups.

Also today, soldiers from the Nigerian army reportedly fired upon a commander, in protest after a number of their colleagues were killed by suspected militants from Boko Haram.

Soldiers said the troops fired at a senior officer who came to pay respects to the killed soldiers, whose bodies were brought to a barracks in Maiduguri - the capital of Borno state – which is about 80 miles (130 kilometres) north of the town of Chibok, where the schoolgirls were abducted a month ago.

Nigeria's Ministry of Defence played down the incident, saying soldiers “registered their anger about the incident by firing into the air. The situation has since been brought under control, as there is calm in the cantonment ...” but witnesses were said to have seen shots fired directly at the car carrying Maj-Gen Ahmed Mohammed, who escaped unhurt, the Associated Press news agency reported.

The Ministry of Defece said in a statement that four soldiers who were on patrol around Chibok were killed in the suspected ambush that riled the soldiers in the barracks, although there were unconfirmed reports that the number could be anywhere up to 12.

Britain and the US are now actively involved in the effort to rescue the missing girls. Britain was reported to have offered to send an RAF Sentinel R1 spy plane to the country.

At least 276 of the girls are still held captive, authorities say, with the group’s leader threatening to sell them into slavery. In a video released on Monday, he offered to release the them in exchange for the freedom of jailed Boko Haram members.

A Nigerian government official suggested “all options” were now open – including negotiations or a possible military operation with foreign help. But Britain’s Minister for Africa, Mark Simmonds, after meeting President Goodluck Jonathan in Abuja said that Mr Jonathan had “made it very clear that there will be no negotiation with Boko Haram that involves a swap of abducted schoolgirls for prisoner.”

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