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  • 10 June 2014, 16:30

Boko Haram Militants 'Seize Young Mothers'

Boko Haram gunmen have reportedly kidnapped up to 40 young mothers from an area near Chibok, the village where more than 250 schoolgirls were abducted nearly two months ago.

The exact number of women taken in the latest raid is thought to be at least 20 - although one local leader from Borno state put it as high as 40.

The kidnappings happened on Saturday in and around the village of Garkin Fulani, five miles from Chibok.

"Available information revealed that the gunmen came around noon and abducted 20 women and three young men left to keep watch on the village," said one local man.

"All the males in the settlement were away in the bush with their herd (of cattle) for grazing when the abductors came to the village.

"We tried to go after them when the news got to us about three hours later, but the vehicles we have could not go far, and the report came to us a little bit late," he said.

There was no immediate indication of where the women were taken and there had been no contact from the kidnappers.

A local official of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (Macban) said the young women were singled out and put into vehicles before being driven away.

Similar kidnappings for ransom have been going on in the area for some time but locals have been too afraid to speak out because of fears of reprisals from the Islamist militants, the official said.

"This is not the first time women are being kidnapped in this area and only released when we pay cattle ransom to the kidnappers. It has happened several times," he said.

Locals always paid the ransom but do not inform the authorities, he said.

A Borno state government official said the authorities were aware of the kidnapping of women from the village but denied knowledge of previous abductions.

"This is the first time we are hearing abduction of Fulani women and we are working to establish the circumstances surrounding the kidnap and necessary action to take," he added.

In another incident, the country's defence ministry said troops had prevented raids by Boko Haram this weekend on villages in Borno and neighbouring Adamawa state, with soldiers killing more than 50 militants on Saturday night as they were on their way to attack communities.

The military has come under rising criticism from Nigerians who say they are not being protected and are being left to fend off attacks by Boko Haram on their own.

The militant group, which wants to establish Islamic state in Nigeria, has been taking over villages in the northeast, killing and terrorising civilians and political leaders.

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