Islamic extremists have abducted 60 more girls and women and 31 boys from villages in northeast Nigeria, witnesses said Tuesday. But security forces are denying the kidnappings.
The latest round of kidnappings took place in Kummabza on Saturday in an attack in which four villagers were killed. According to the Associated Press, a local villager verified that the abductions had occurred but insisted on anonymity because he was not authorized to give information to reporters. He said elderly survivors of the attack had walked some 25 kilometers (15 miles) to the relative safety of other villages.
In April, over 200 schoolgirls were kidnapped and the Nigerian government has seemingly stopped trying to locate them.
Boko Haram has been demanding the release of detained members in exchange for its hostages but President Goodluck Jonathan has said he will not consider a swap. The first lady, Patience Jonathan, and some other supporters have claimed the reports of the April abductions of the schoolgirls were fabricated to discredit her husband’s administration.
Also on Saturday, the same day as the latest abductions, scores of Boko Haram fighters attacked four other villages, near Chibok town from which the girls were kidnapped. Witnesses said at least 33 villagers were killed as well as six vigilantes and about two dozen Boko Haram fighters.
The group evolved five years ago from an Islamic sect preaching against the corruption that keeps most Nigerians impoverished despite their country’s oil wealth into a violent movement that wants to enforce Islamic law across Nigeria, though half the country’s 170 million people are Christians.
Its attacks have become more frequent and deadly, with more than 2,000 people estimated killed this year, compared to 3,600 in all the four previous years.