The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Officials: 63 girls and women escape Islamic extremists in Nigeria; Chibok girls still captive

  • Print

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria - More than 60 Nigerian girls and women abducted two weeks ago by Islamic extremists have managed to escape, officials said Monday, though more than 200 girls kidnapped in April still remain missing.

Nigerian security forces and federal officials have denied reports of a mass abduction June 22 from three villages in the northeastern state of Borno. But Chibok government chairman Pogu Bitrus said Monday he had verified that about 60 women and girls escaped last week by sending a representative to meet with some of the escapees and their families at a hospital in Lassa.

Civil patrol leader Abbas Gava in Maiduguri, capital of Borno state, said he was told 63 women and girls escaped Friday while their captors were engaged in a major attack on a military barracks and police headquarters in the town of Damboa.

The Associated Press had originally quoted witnesses and a local official saying that 90 people including about 30 boys had been kidnapped from the three villages on June 22. But Bitrus said those who escaped said no males were abducted with them.

Boko Haram extremists have been waging an insurgency for five years in northern Nigeria, demanding the establishment of an Islamic state. More than 2,000 people have died so far this year in the Islamic uprising, compared to an estimated 3,600 total deaths in the previous four years.

The group drew international condemnation for the April 15 abductions of more than 200 schoolgirls from a school in Chibok in the northern state of Borno. First reports put the number at more than 300, but a presidential committee said last month that there were 395 students at the school — 119 who escaped during the siege of the school and 57 who escaped in the first couple of days of their abduction, leaving 219 unaccounted for.

Boko Haram is demanding the release of detained fighters in exchange for the Chibok girls but Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan reportedly has refused to consider a prisoner swap.

On Monday, government spokesman Mike Omeri told reporters the government still does not know anything about the latest mass abduction and escapes. He also said investigators were progressing in the April Chibok kidnappings case.

"We are moving closer to finding them, at least we have identified a number of leads," he told reporters.

That statement could not immediately be reconciled with one made weeks ago by Nigeria's top-ranking soldier, Air Marshal Alex Badeh, who said the government knew where the girls are being held but feared that any military campaign to rescue them could endanger their lives.

Bitrus said attacks have increased around Chibok and that Boko Haram has taken over some villages and is threatening to capture others. A local group, the Kibaku Area Development Association, says 19 villages have been attacked since the April 15 abductions, with more than 229 people killed and about 100 seriously wounded.

The vast majority of the cases have had advance warning of the attacks — as happened in the Chibok kidnappings — yet the military had taken no action, the association said.

"Security and defence is mainly provided by the local vigilante and the police while the soldiers in Chibok sit by and watch villagers being helplessly massacred in their homes, farms and in places of worship," the association said, demanding help from the United Nations.

Nigeria's military has reported some successes in recent days. Soldiers killed at least 50 insurgents and lost five troops and their commander when they repulsed an attack by hundreds of Boko Haram fighters on a military base in Damboa, the Defence Ministry said Sunday.

It is impossible to verify reports from an area were Boko Haram is carrying out near-daily attacks.

___

Faul reported from Lagos, Nigeria.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Key of Bart - Evil Las Vegas

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A golfer looks for his ball in a water trap at John Blumberg Golf Course Friday afternoon as geese and goslings run for safety- See Joe Bryksa’s 30 day goose challenge- Day 24– June 15, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • A goose heads for shade in the sunshine Friday afternoon at Woodsworth Park in Winnipeg - Day 26– June 22, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Have you decided which mayoral candidate will get your vote?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google