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

    In Britain, The Sun Still Doesn’t Shine

    Invoking Spitfires and Merlin, Leave voters insist country can be great again, following surprising 'Brexit' vote last week

    Double Wave of Suicide Bombings Puts Lebanon, Refugees on Edge

    Following suicide bombings in Christian town of Al-Qaa, on Lebanon's northeast border with Syria, fears of further bombings have risen

    US Senators Warned on Zika After Failing to Pass Funding

    Zika threats and challenges, as well as issues of contraception and vaccines, spelled out as lawmakers point fingers

    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.
    Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeasti
    X
    June 29, 2016 6:15 PM
    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora