More women, young girls kidnapped in Nigeria

File photo of women during a demonstration calling on the government to rescue 200 kidnapped schoolgirls. Now more than 60 women have been kidnapped from the same area. Photo / AP
File photo of women during a demonstration calling on the government to rescue 200 kidnapped schoolgirls. Now more than 60 women have been kidnapped from the same area. Photo / AP

Suspected Boko Haram militants have abducted more than 60 women and girls, some as young as three, in the latest kidnappings in northeast Nigeria and over two months since more than 200 schoolgirls were seized.

Analysts said the kidnapping, which happened during a raid on Kummabza village in the Damboa district of Borno state, could be an attempt by the Islamist group to refocus attention on its demands for the release of militant fighters.

Boko Haram has indicated that it would be willing to release the 219 schoolgirls that it has held hostage since April 14 in exchange for the freedom of its brothers in arms currently held in Nigerian jails.

Nigeria initially refused to sanction any deal but efforts have since been made to open talks with the group, with a possible prisoner swap part of discussions.

The military in Abuja said in a tweet late on Monday it could not confirm the latest abductions and spokesmen were not immediately available for comment when contacted by AFP on Tuesday.

But a senior officer in the Damboa local government, who asked for his name to be withheld as he was not authorised to speak on the matter, said: "Over 60 women were hijacked and forcefully taken away by the terrorists.

"The village was also destroyed," he said, adding that locals had fled their homes to other parts of Borno and across the state border into Adamawa.

"Among those abducted are children between the ages of three and 12," he added.

Damboa local government officials said they were afraid to speak out because of the controversy surrounding the Chibok abductions, with Nigeria's government coming under heavy criticism for its slow response.

- AFP

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