UK & World News

  • 6 May 2014, 17:06

'Boko Haram' Kidnaps More Girls In Nigeria

Suspected Boko Haram gunmen have kidnapped eight girls from a Nigerian village overnight, police and residents have said.

The girls, aged 12 to 15, were abducted near one of the Islamist militant group's strongholds in the northeast of the country.

Lazarus Musa, a resident of Warabe, where the attack happened, said: "They were many, and all of them carried guns. They came in two vehicles painted in army colour.

"They started shooting in our village."

A police source, who could not be named, said the girls were taken away on trucks, along with stolen livestock and food.

It came after it emerged the UK was offering "practical help" to help Nigeria secure the release of more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague revealed the country's potential involvement in the case after the organisation threatened to sell the abducted girls.

"We are offering practical help," he told reporters as he arrived for a Council of Europe meeting in Vienna to discuss ways to defuse the crisis in Ukraine.

"What has happened here ... the actions of Boko Haram to use girls as the spoils of war, the spoils of terrorism, is disgusting. It is immoral.

"I called the Nigerian foreign minister when this first arose ... to offer help from Britain, to express our concerns."

He said he did not want to discuss exactly what help Britain was offering, just as US authorities have avoided going into detail.

It is thought Nigeria has so far not accepted either country's offer.

Boko Haram militants stormed an all-girl secondary school in the village of Chibok, in Borno state, on April 14 and packed the teenagers, who had been taking exams, on to trucks. They then disappeared into a remote area along the border with Cameroon.

The raid has shocked Nigerians despite a bloody five-year-old Islamist insurgency in the north of the country, and there have been claims that other countries should have done more and been quicker to offer help.

Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau has appeared in a video, chuckling as he stands in front of an armoured personnel carrier with two masked militants wielding AK-47s on either side of him.

"I abducted your girls. I will sell them in the market, by Allah," he says.

"Allah has instructed me to sell them. They are his property and I will carry out his instructions."

Boko Haram, seen as the main security threat to Nigeria, Africa's leading energy producer, is growing bolder and extending its reach.

The kidnapping occurred on the day a bomb blast, also blamed on Boko Haram, killed 75 people on the edge of Abuja, the first attack on the capital in two years.

The group's name means "Western education is sinful" and Shekau makes reference in the video to the fact the girls were undergoing Western education.

The girls' abduction has been hugely embarrassing for the government and threatens to overshadow the World Economic Forum for Africa it hosts from May 7 to 9.

On Sunday, authorities arrested a leader of a protest staged last week in Abuja that had called on them to do more to find the girls, further fuelling outrage against the security forces.

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