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Published On: Tue, May 6th, 2014

Abducted girls: Boko Haram claims responsibility – Report

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boko-kidnap-School-Chibok-girlsFrom Mustapha Isa Kwaru, Maiduguri, with agency reports

The Boko Haram insurgent group has claimed responsibility for the kidnap of over 200 girls in Chibok, Borno State, the BBC has reported.

The claim is believed to have been made by the Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau, in a new video.

The girls were kidnapped from the dormitory of Government Secondary School, Chibok, on the night of April 14.

The actual number of girls kidnapped is yet to be verified with all accounts saying over 200 are still missing.

President Goodluck Jonathan had said during the Presidential Media Chat on Sunday that the federal government has not been able to locate the girls.

“From that day (of the abductions), till today, security personnel have been searching everywhere. All the information that have been volunteered to us, we’ve searched the places. We have used aircraft, helicopters that have the ability to scan what is on the surfaces. And we have scanned.”

Mr. Jonathan also said no group had claimed responsibility for the kidnap and the government was not negotiating with any group for the release.

“You can’t negotiate with somebody you don’t know,” he said.

The Boko Haram has waged an insurgency in the north against the Nigerian government since 2009 that has led to the death of thousands of people and displacement of tens of thousands of others. At least 1,500 are believed to have been killed in 2014 alone. A state of emergency declared in Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe has not deterred the group from committing its atrocities.

In a related development, the suspected Boko Haram insurgents have threatened to “sell” the hundreds of schoolgirls it abducted three weeks ago.

Militant leader, Abubakar Shekau sent a video obtained by the AFP news agency, in which he said for the first time that his group had taken the girls.

About 230 girls are still believed to be missing, prompting widespread criticism of the Nigerian government.

The Boko Haram insurgency has left thousands dead since 2009.

The girls were taken from their school in Chibok, in the northern state of Borno, on the night of 14 April.

Boko Haram, which means “Western education is forbidden” has staged numerous previous attacks on educational institutions in northern Nigeria.

 

Protest organiser detained

 

Meanwhile, a woman who helped organise protests over the abduction has been detained, her fellow community leaders say.

Naomi Mutah took part in a meeting called by First Lady Patience Jonathan and was then taken to a police station, they say.

Mrs Jonathan reportedly felt slighted that the mothers of the abducted girls had sent Ms Mutah to the meeting instead of going themselves.

Analysts say Mrs Jonathan is a politically powerful figure in Nigeria.

Ms Mutah, a representative of the Chibok community where the girls were seized from their school, last week organised a protest outside parliament in the capital, Abuja.

The protesters, and many Nigerians, feel the government has not done enough to find the girls.

They were in their final year of school, most of them aged 16 to 18.

Pogo Bitrus, another Chibok community leader, told the BBC he had been to the Asokoro police station where Ms Mutah is reported to have been taken but could find no written record of her being there.

He described the detention as “unfortunate” and “insensitive”, adding that he hoped Mrs Jonathan would soon “realise her mistake”.

Mr Bitrus noted that Mrs Jonathan has no constitutional power to order arrests.

The AP news agency quotes another community leader, Saratu Angus Ndirpaya, as saying that Mrs Jonathan accused the activists of fabricating the abductions to give the government a bad name.

She also said the First Lady accused them of supporting Boko Haram.

In a TV broadcast on Sunday, his first comment on the abductions, President Goodluck Jonathan said he did not know where the girls were but everything was being done to find them.

Meanwhile, gunmen crossed the border from Nigeria into northern Cameroon yesterday, killing two people and freeing suspected militants being held at an army post.

Authorities believe the assailants are members of the radical Islamist sect Boko Haram. News reports have suggested some of the girls may have been taken across the border into Cameroon.

Thirty armed men entered Cameroon’s territory from Nigeria’s Borno State early Monday and attacked a military post in the town of Kousseri.

Parts of the town, which also borders Chad, were ransacked in the attack. Cameroon’s state radio reported that a soldier and a prisoner were killed and an undisclosed number of Boko Haram members freed.

State radio journalist, Ebenezer Akanga, who is based in the area, told VOA that the invaders opened fire indiscriminately

“As soon as they got to the brigade [military post] they opened fire,” Akanga said. “One of the gendarmes [military policeman] riposted in an attempt to push back the assailants. The members freed one of theirs who was being held under custody after he was arrested last Saturday in Kousseri with arms.”

The attackers left with a huge consignment of arms and ammunition, according to Akanga, who said that defence forces have tightened security along the borders.

It’s the third time Boko Haram has attacked the Cameroonian city.

Cameroon’s government responded to critics who accuse officials of not doing enough to fight Boko Haram.

“We all know the saying that when the neighbour’s house is consumed by fire there is risk that we receive sparks,” said government spokesperson, Issa Tchiroma. “Cameroon is resolutely committed in collaboration with its neighbouring countries in the fight against terrorism and border crime.”

 

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