MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (AP) — Islamic extremists have abducted 60 more girls and women and 31 boys from villages in northeast Nigeria, witnesses said Tuesday.
Security forces denied the kidnappings. Nigeria’s government and military have attracted widespread criticism for their slow response to the abductions of more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped April 15.
There was no way to safely and independently confirm the report from Kummabza, 150 kilometers (95 miles) from Maiduguri, capital of Borno state and headquarters of a military state of emergency that has failed to curtail near-daily attacks by Boko Haram fighters.
Kummabza resident Aji Khalil said Tuesday the abductions took place Saturday in an attack in which four villagers were killed. Khalil is a member of one of the vigilante groups that have had some success in repelling Boko Haram attacks with primitive weapons.
A senior local councilor from the village’s Damboa local government told The Associated Press that abductions had occurred but requested 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.
The Damboa council secretary, Modu Mustapha, said he could not confirm or deny the abductions and directed a reporter to the council chairman, Alamin Mohammed, who did not answer phone calls or respond to text messages.
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.
A strategy to rescue the girls appears to have reached an impasse. Nigeria’s military has said it knows where they are but fears their abductors would kill them if any military action is taken.