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

    Native Americans Ask: What About Our Water Supply?

    They say they have been facing a dangerous water contaminant for decades - uranium – but the problem has received far less attention than water contamination by lead in Flint, Michigan

    Pakistan's President Urges Nation Not to Celebrate Valentine's Day

    Mamnoon Hussain criticizes Valentine's Day, which falls on Sunday this year, as a Western import that threatens to undermine the Islamic values of Pakistan

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    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.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.