Boko Haram Kidnaps 30 Boys and Girls in Village Raid; Nigerian Government Insists Negotiations Can Continue
Terror group Boko Haram has kidnapped at least 30 boys and girls in a village raid in northeast Nigeria over the weekend, reports have said. The Nigerian government has insisted that despite the ongoing attacks, negotiations to release over 200 Chibok schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram in April can continue.
"In the past two days Boko Haram insurgents stormed Mafa and abducted 30 boys aged 13 and above and girls aged 11 and above," Mafa local government chairman Shettima Maina said, according to CNN.
"They took them away to their base in the bush, and we believe they are going to use them as foot soldiers," he added.
Just last week, the Islamic militants kidnapped another 60 women from two separate villages, continuing a string of violent attacks and kidnappings despite the government announcing that it has reached a ceasefire with the group.
Reuters reported that Nigeria's foreign minister has refuted suggestions that the attacks will jeopardize ongoing talks to free the Chibok schoolgirls.
"There are still negotiations going on and we expect a lot of progress to be made. Soon we will announce exactly where we are," Aminu Wali told journalists on Monday.
The Borno Elders Forum, a local group of retired senior civilian and military officials from the state where Boko Haram has been the most active, has suggested that the truce deal was not reached with representatives of the real terror group.
"If they are aware and they are in agreement that there is a ceasefire, I don't think they would continue attacking innocent people and taking over places," said spokesman Bulama Mali Gubio last week.
"It is either (that) those the federal government is negotiating with are not the Boko Haram but the usual 419ers, or it is just some kind of mockery," he added, referring to a section of the Nigerian penal code that deals with fraud.
In another attack on Thursday, 17 people were killed by Boko Haram in a raid in the village of Ndongo, which was looted and set ablaze.
"Many people have fled with their families to Maiduguri for fear of being killed or losing their children to the insurgents," said Mallam Ashiekh Mustapha, the local chief of Mafa.
Chadian and Nigerian officials have said that the attacks could be coming from dissident factions within Boko Haram or bandits posing as the Islamic militants.
"Boko Haram are saying that those ones (attacks) were done by other rogues and criminals. ... Kidnapping has been going on in Nigeria for some time ... by miscreants," Wali said. "But certainly this is not something that will threaten the negotiations going on. And we will make an effort also to bring back those that have been kidnapped."
There has been no official statement by Boko Haram's leaders on the recent raids, however.
The terror group has carried out violent attacks across Nigeria's northeast region for over five years, often targeting Christian villages, churches and congregations in their mission to establish Islamic rule over the country.