SHAFAQNA – Around 30 adolescents — some of them girls aged as young as 11 — have been abducted in northeast Nigeria over the weekend by suspected Boko Haram rebels, a local village chief told reporters on Sunday.
“The insurgents… grabbed young people, boys and girls, from our region,” said Alhaji Shettima Maina, who is in charge of the Mafa village around 50 kilometres (30 miles) east of Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state.
“They took all boys aged 13 and over… and all girls aged 11 and more. According to our information, 30 young people were abducted in the last two days.”
Another village elder, Mallam Ashiekh Mustapha, confirmed the account.
Both men said 17 people were also killed in recent days in a Boko Haram attack on the nearby village of Ndongo.
Boko Haram, which has been waging a bloody insurgency since 2009, has been responsible for waves of attacks and abductions.
View galleryA screengrab taken on October 2, 2014 from a video released by Boko Haram and obtained by AFP shows …
In April, the Islamist rebel group snatched more than 200 schoolgirls from Chibok in northeast Nigeria, triggering an international outcry.
Kidnapping young women and girls — as well as forcibly conscripting young men and boys to fight for Boko Haram — is a well-established tactic by the militants.
Some estimates put the number of women held by the group in the high hundreds. Most are believed to be forced into marriages with rebels.
The latest kidnapping comes despite the Nigerian government declaring a truce with the insurgents and the army retaking control of Abadam in the north-east on Saturday, according to a senior security official in the region.
But local chief Maina said his village and areas around it were targeted in nearly daily raids by Boko Haram, and many residents have fled to Maiduguri “for fear of being killed or losing their children”.
View galleryFILE – This file photo taken from video by Nigeria’s Boko Haram terrorist network on Monday, May …
He said he had pleaded for help from the Nigerian government but that so far none had been forthcoming.
Earlier this month the government and army had announced an accord with Boko Haram, whose insurgency has left more than 10,000 dead over the past five years. But on the ground in north Nigeria the truce has not taken hold as attacks have continued.
The reported retaking of Abadam, near lake Chad, from Boko Haram fighters could not be immediately confirmed by the Nigerian army and witnesses could not be reached as most of the inhabitants fled to neighbouring Niger when the Islamists had taken over the village.
In another neighbour, Cameroon, where Boko Haram attacks have increased in recent months, the defence ministry on Sunday said in a note sent to AFP that it pushed back three incursions Friday by Boko Haram in the country’s extreme north, including at the village of Glawi where four Nigerian refugees were killed and a Cameroonian civilian was wounded by the Islamists.
Cameroon’s army also claimed to have killed 39 Islamists. That could not be independently confirmed. There were also no details on any casualties suffered by the military.
The attacks and kidnappings have called into doubt Abuja’s claim to have negotiated a ceasefire with the extremist group.
Boko Haram, which wants to create an Islamic state in mainly Muslim northern Nigeria, is a fractured group with different commanders controlling rival cells in various regions.
Analysts doubt that the individuals in talks with Nigeria have the influence to enforce a blanket ceasefire.