A demonstration in the Nigerian capital Abuja in May (Photo: AP Photo/Gbenga Olamikan)
Two months after more than 200 schoolgirls were kidnapped from the northeastern Nigerian town of Chibok, militants are suspected of carrying out another set of abductions in the troubled region.
This time, reports from the village of Kummabza said that 60 girls and women and 31 boys were taken from the area, about 150 kilometres from Maiduguri, capital of Borno state. According to AP, Nigerian security forces have not yet confirmed the kidnappings took place.
One Kummabza resident named Aji Khalil, a member of a vigilante group attempting to repel the militants, told AP that the attack took place on Saturday. Four villagers were killed, and according to a senior local councillor, elderly survivors of the attack had to walk 25 kilometres to relative safety in other villages.
Boko Haram, the radical group that claimed responsibility for the first kidnappings and is suspected of these latest ones, has demanded the release of detained members in exchange for some of its hostages — a request that President Goodluck Jonathan has been so far unwilling to honour.
The group has been waging a campaign for years to establish Islamic law in Nigeria. In another attack on Saturday, Boko Haram fighters attacked four villages near Chibok, where the initial kidnappings took place, killing 33 villages and six vigilantes. And yesterday, an attack on a college campus in Kano, northern Nigeria, killed eight (it's not known whether Boko Haram was involved). Earlier this month, the New York Times reports, it killed as many as hundreds of people in what has been described as a massacre along the border with Cameroon.
Saturday's kidnappings aren't the first attributed to Boko Haram since the April schoolgirl kidnapping which drew worldwide condemnation. Twenty women were taken from a nomadic settlement in northeast Nigeria, near Chibok, in June. But the scale of the recent attack is the largest since April.
For more on the group, whose name is often loosely translated as "Western education is forbidden," see this explainer from BBC News.