The Islamist militant group Boko Haram has conducted another mass kidnapping of dozens of women and girls in Nigeria, according to local residents. Nigerian officials have not confirmed the abductions in the northeastern region of the country, where the group has a stronghold. Local journalists, news reports, and a Catholic bishop in the area corroborated the attack took place over the weekend, according to the New York Times.
Here’s more on the kidnappings from the Times:
The kidnappings took place last Saturday in a mountain village near the border with Cameroon, a Boko Haram stronghold, said Bishop Stephen Mamza, who is from the area but now officiates in the state capital, Yola. In the latest kidnapping, residents told the bishop that scores of gunmen on motorcycles stormed their village, Garta, on Saturday. Boko Haram has operated with near impunity for months in the mountainous region, with occasional reprisals from Nigeria’s military. The gunmen torched houses in the village, slit the throats of four men and went house-to-house searching for young women, eventually taking away around 60, according to the bishop and local news reports.
“The heavily armed fighters left 1,500 naira, or about $9, and kola nuts as a bride price for each of the women abducted Saturday, suggesting that they would be taken as sex slaves,” residents told CNN. The latest round of abductions comes shortly after the Nigerian government announced a ceasefire had been agreed to with the group and a deal had been reached to secure the release of the some 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by the group earlier this year. Boko Haram, however, never confirmed the existence of the announced negotiated settlements and, the Times reports, the government announcement was “greeted with broad skepticism in Nigeria.”