News / Africa

    Witness: Nigerian Schoolgirl Abductors Pretended to be Soldiers

    A soldier walks past damaged buses following an explosion at a bus park in Abuja, Nigeria,  April. 14, 2014.
    A soldier walks past damaged buses following an explosion at a bus park in Abuja, Nigeria, April. 14, 2014.
    Reuters
    Islamist rebels duped dozens of Nigerian schoolgirls into thinking they were soldiers come to evacuate them before abducting over 100 in their latest anti-government raid, one of the survivors said on Wednesday.
     
    Major attacks blamed on Nigeria's Boko Haram
     
    2009
    • July - Attacks prompt government crackdown in Bauchi and Maiduguri; 800 people killed
     
    2010
    • December - Bombings in central Nigeria and church attacks in the northeast kill 86
     
    2011
    • June - Attack on a bar in Maiduguri kills 25
    • August - Suicide bomber kills 23 at U.N. building in Abuja
    • November - Bombings in Damaturu and Potiskum kill 65
    • December - Christmas Day bombings across Nigeria kill 39
     
    2012
    • January -- Gun and bomb attacks in Kano kill up to 200
    • February - Maiduguri market attack kills 30
    • June - Suicide car bombings at three churches kill 21
    • July - Attacks in Plateau state kill dozens, including two politicians at a funeral for the victims
     
    2013
    • February - French family kidnapped in Cameroon, held hostage for two months
    • April - Fighting with troops in Baga kills up to 200; residents say troops set deadly fires
    • May - Attacks in Bama kill more than 50
    • July - Gunmen kill 30 at a school in Yobe
    • August - Gunmen kill 44 at a mosque outside Maiduguri
    • September - Gunmen kill 40 students a dorm in Yobe
    • October - Attack Yobe state capital Damaturu, clash with military in Borno state

    Gunmen suspected to be members of the radical Islamist movement Boko Haram swooped on Chibok town in Borno state and on its nearby all-girls government secondary school late on Monday, calling on the students to leave their beds in the hostel.
     
    The mass abduction of schoolgirls aged between 15 and 18 has shocked Nigeria and showed how the five-year-old Boko Haram insurgency has brought lawlessness to swathes of the arid, poor northeast, killing hundreds of people in recent months.
     
    It occurred the same day a bomb blast, also blamed on Boko Haram, killed 75 people on the edge of the capital Abuja, stirring fears of violence spreading from the north of Africa's No. 1 oil producer and most populous nation.
     
    The Chibok students, who had returned to take final-year certificate exams at their school despite a Borno state-wide closure of educational centers because of recent Boko Haram attacks in the northeast, initially obeyed the armed visitors, thinking they were Nigerian troops there to protect them.
     
    “When we saw these gunmen, we thought they were soldiers, they told all of us to come and walk to the gates, we followed their instructions,” 18-year-old Godiya Isaiah, who later managed to escape the abductors, told Reuters.
     
    But when the armed men started ransacking the school stores and set fire to the building, the terrified girls being herded at gunpoint into vehicles realized they were being kidnapped.
     
    “We were crying,” Isaiah said, recounting how she later jumped from a truck and ran away to hide in the bush. Other girls were packed into a bus and some pick-up trucks.
     
    Lawless border area
     
    Borno state education commissioner Inuwa Kubo said five other girls who also managed to escape told the same story.
     
    “They went into the bus unsuspecting,” he told Reuters.
     
    “They were lured into the vehicle because they were told that the school was going to be attacked,” he added. The attackers also raided nearby Chibok town, ransacking stores and offices there and killing several people, witnesses said.
     
    Boko Haram, which in the Hausa language broadly means “Western education is sinful”, has previously attacked several schools as symbols of secular authority, killing pupils and teachers, as well as Christian churches and Nigerian state targets such as police, army and government offices.
     
    Nigerian police and army patrols were on Wednesday still scouring the bush and hills around Chibok for the missing girls, believed to number at least 100. Kubo said 129 girls had been at the school taking their exams when the abduction took place.
     
    A military spokesman called the abductors “terrorists”.
     
    Chibok is not far from a rugged area of forest, hills and caves where military officials say Boko Haram has camps near the border with neighboring Cameroon. They have abducted girls in the past to be sex slaves for the fighters and to do camp work.
     
    No one has claimed responsibility for the abduction or for the rush hour bomb blast on Abuja's outskirts, which put the capital on alert around three weeks before the central city was due to host a high-profile World Economic Forum on Africa.
     
    But President Goodluck Jonathan has pointed the finger of suspicion for the bombing at Boko Haram, bringing home to Nigerians in the centrally-located capital that the Islamist insurrection ravaging poorer states hundreds of kilometers (miles) to the northeast could also strike much closer to home.
     
    Bomb scare
     

    On Tuesday afternoon, a bomb scare at the National Assembly, in Abuja caused lawmakers and federal bureaucrats to hurriedly abandon their offices. Banks also closed before officials declared the scare a false alarm.
     
    With elections due in February, Jonathan is under intense pressure to contain the Boko Haram insurgency and additional communal sectarian violence in Nigeria's center-north which badly tarnish the West African state's newly acquired status as the largest economy on the continent.
     
    Ordinary citizens, and delegates to a conference discussing national unity in a country split between a mostly Muslim north and largely Christian south, all called on the government to do more to end violence and improve security across the territory.
     
    “It's as if we have nothing on the ground that can give us a sense of security, we are left in the hands of God,” said Emeka Obi, who works at a business center in the capital.
     
    Some delegates to the conference called for closure of Nigeria's borders with its Sahel neighbors Niger and Chad and also with Cameroon, reflecting fears that Boko Haram had bases there and also ties with al-Qaida-linked Saharan jihadists.
     
    There are also suspicions some local politicians may be manipulating the violence to try to serve their own interests.
     
    “We must advise politicians to take politics out of this entirely. There are external sponsors to this cannibalism we are witnessing,” said Kunle Olajide, a delegate to the conference.
     
    Nigerian authorities plan to deploy over 6,000 police and soldiers to protect participants in the May 7-9 “African Davos” World Economic Forum which draws regional heads of state and business leaders in a mirror of the Davos, Switzerland event.

    You May Like

    US Watching as North Korea Opens Biggest Political Meeting in Decades

    As Workers' Party Congress opens, Washington anticipating possibility of another missile launch or nuclear test as top officials gather

    Video Pop Icon Prince Quietly Helped Afghan Orphans for Years

    He sent thousands of dollars to help an aid group rebuild a training center for orphan boy and girl scouts in Kabul, but kept his involvement secret

    Britain’s Muslims See London Mayor Race as Victory

    Mere running of 45-year-old former government minister and son of Pakistani immigrants Sadiq Khan seen by many as turning point

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Hector from: USA
    April 16, 2014 12:04 PM
    Boko Haram is not just a physical organization but also a belief system, just like Al-qaeda and Taliban, and that is why it may never be fully eradicated using military hardware. The northern Nigeria muslim leaders and their constituents are all sympathetic to the Boko Haram cause, and have never condemned the group's action in public, just as Afghan leaders don't condemn Taliban. As long as the northern leaders remain silent about the issue or try to shift blame to Nigeria's president, the group will thrive and likely destabilize the social and economic life of the north.

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labori
    X
    May 05, 2016 6:44 PM
    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labor

    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Troops Recount Firefight Which Killed US Navy SEAL

    A U.S. Navy SEAL killed Tuesday, when Islamic State fighters punched through Kurdish lines in northern Iraq, was part of a quick reaction force sent to extract other U.S. troops trapped by the surprise offensive. VOA's Kawa Omar spoke with Kurdish troops in the town of Telskuf -- the scene of what U.S. officials called a "dynamic firefight."
    Video

    Video British Lawmakers Warn EU Exit Talks Could Last A Decade

    Leaving the European Union would mean difficult negotiations that could take years to complete, according to a bipartisan group of British lawmakers. While the group did not recommend a vote either way, the lawmakers noted trade deals between the EU and non-EU states take between four and nine years on average. Henry Ridgwell reports on the mounting debate over whether Britain should stay or exit the EU as the June vote approaches.
    Video

    Video NASA Astronauts Train for Commercial Space Flights

    Since the last Shuttle flight in 2011, the United States has been relying on Russian rockets to launch fresh crews to the International Space Station. But that may change in the next few years. NASA and several private space companies are developing advanced capsules capable of taking humans into low orbit and beyond. As VOA's George Putic reports, astronauts are already training for commercial spacecraft in flight simulators.
    Video

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    The White House is expressing concern about rising political chaos in Iraq and the impact it could have on the fight against the Islamic State. The U.S. says Iraq needs a stable, central government to help push back the group. But some say Baghdad may not have a unified government any time soon. VOA's White House correspondent Mary Alice Salinas reports.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora