Nigeria’s Boko Haram crisis: Dozens of women feared abducted in Gamboru Ngala

Dozens of displaced people are feared to have been abducted by Boko Haram jihadists in north-eastern Nigeria.

The victims were mostly women who lived in a camp in Gamboru Ngala town after fleeing their homes because of attacks by the insurgents, locals said.

The abductions occurred when the group went to collect firewood to cook or sell, they added.

The United Nations condemned the reported kidnappings and called of for the unconditional release of abductees.

Mohamed Malick Fall, the UN’s Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, said that while the exact number is unknown it is estimated more than 200 people were abducted.

He said in a statement on Wednesday that the incident was “a stark reminder that women and girls are among those most affected” by the Islamist insurgency in north-east Nigeria.

While sympathising with the families of the victims, Mr Fall urged authorities to provide more livelihood opportunities for displaced persons in camps to reduce the risks they face.

The largest mass abduction by Boko Haram occurred when more than 270 schoolgirls were seized from their dormitory in Chibok town, also in north-eastern Borno state, in 2014.

The latest abductions took place several days ago, but details are only emerging now because Gamboru Ngala is in a remote area, on the shores of Lake Chad, where the jihadists have destroyed mobile phone masts and other telecommunication infrastructure. Local residents sometimes cross to neighbouring 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 seized but did not give any further details. The road leading to the town has been closed.

The kidnappings come at a time when Borno’s state government has said that 95% of Boko Haram fighters are either dead or have surrendered.

Neither it nor the federal government has commented on the latest abductions, but the chairman of the local government in the area, Umar Mohammed, confirmed the kidnappings, without giving a number.

One Gamboru Ngala resident told the BBC that 113 people had been taken away by Boko Haram fighters.

“It was on Sunday that we got information that over 200 displaced people went to get firewood but unfortunately Boko Haram kidnapped them, allowing only the very young and very old to return,” said the resident, who asked not to be identified for fear of reprisals.

An anti-jihadist militia leader in the area, Shehu Mada, blamed the abductions on an offshoot of Boko Haram known as the Islamic State of West Africa Province (Iswap), AFP news agency reports.

He said a headcount showed that 47 women had been captured, while others managed to escape.

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

Source: BBC

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