Boko Haram crisis in Nigeria: Fears of dozens of women being kidnapped in Gamboru Ngala

  • Mansour Abu Bakr
  • BBC News, Kano

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Boko Haram, pictured here in a propaganda video, has been waging an insurgency since 2009

It is feared that dozens of displaced people have been kidnapped by Boko Haram jihadists in northeastern Nigeria.

Local residents said the victims were mostly women living in a camp in Gamboru Ngala town after fleeing their homes due to rebel attacks.

They added that the kidnappings occurred when the group went to collect firewood for cooking or selling.

Reports on the number of people kidnapped vary widely, from about 50 to more than 300.

The largest mass kidnapping carried out by Boko Haram occurred when more than 270 schoolgirls were kidnapped from their residence in the town of Chibok, also located in the northeastern state of Borno, in 2014.

The latest kidnapping occurred several days ago, but details have only emerged now because Gamboro Ngala is in a remote area, on the shores of Lake Chad, where jihadists have destroyed cellphone towers and other communications infrastructure. Locals sometimes cross into neighboring Cameroon to make phone calls.

Borno state authorities told the BBC that a response team had been deployed to the area where the people were kidnapped, but did not provide any further details. The road leading to the city was closed.

The kidnappings come at a time when the Borno state government said that 95% of Boko Haram fighters were either dead or surrendered.

Neither the government nor the federal government commented on the recent kidnappings, but the head of the local government in the region, Omar Mohammed, confirmed that the kidnappings had occurred, without giving a number.

A resident of Gamboru Ngala told the BBC that Boko Haram fighters took 113 people.

One resident, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of arrest, said: “We received information on Sunday that more than 200 displaced people went to get firewood, but unfortunately Boko Haram kidnapped them and allowed only the young and the old to return.” Retaliatory actions.

The leader of the anti-jihadist militia in the region, Shehu Maada, blamed the kidnappings on a branch of the Boko Haram group known as the Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP), Agence France-Presse reported.

He said that counting the number of people showed that 47 women were arrested while others managed to escape.

The insurgency has raged in northern Nigeria since 2009, killing more than 40,000 people and forcing two million to flee their homes.

Additional reporting by Chris Ewokore

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