Gunmen suspected to be Boko Haram have reportedly abducted about 20 women near Chibok, the Borno State community where more than 200 schoolgirls were kidnapped on April 14.
The women, according to Bloomberg, a United States-based news agency, and The Guardian of London, were taken after the gunmen attacked a nomadic settlement known as Garkin Fulani at the weekend.
Bloomberg and The Guardian of London both quoted a member of the Vigilante Group of Nigeria, Alhaji Tar, as having said the women were herded into vehicles at gunpoint and driven off to an unknown location.
“We got the information that they went there and took away the women at the time none of the males were there,” Tar said in the reports by the two news sources on Monday.
“The three young men they met there could not help the women, as they (gunmen) also ordered the three of them to enter the Toyota Hilux vans and took all of them away,” Tar added.
The news channels also reported that three young men who tried to stop the abduction of the women were also taken away.
When contacted by one of our correspondents, the Borno State Police Commissioner, Lawan Tanko, denied that the incident took place.
He said, “I believe there is no truth in the attack as I just spoke to my divisional police officer in Chibok. He should have informed me of the abduction if there was any.”
Also, the Chairman of Chibok Local Government Area, Baana Lawan, said, “When I saw the report on online new sources, I despatched some vigilance group members and hunters to the scene. They came back and told me that the place was never attacked and that no one was abducted.”
Telephone calls by one of our correspondents in Abuja to the Director of Defence Information, Maj. Gen. Chris Olukolade, were not picked by him. He also did not respond to a text message sent to him.
Before then, Olukolade had said Special Forces killed 50 Boko Haram insurgents on Saturday.
Olukolade, in an electronic mail on Monday, said the insurgents were ambushed by troops at Bilta following intelligence reports that they were going to attack some communities in Borno and Adamawa states.
He added that four soldiers who received gunshot wounds in the encounter were receiving treatment at an undisclosed hospital.
The DHQ spokesman stated that the troops also seized “30 rifles, 36 hand grenades, seven machine guns, 11 rocket propelled grenade tubes, 3500 rounds of ammunition, six smoke grenade canisters, locally-fabricated guns and four vehicles used by the terrorists in the foiled attack.”
He said, “Troops conducting anti-terrorist campaign in the North-East have successfully averted attempted massive raid on villages in Borno and Adamawa states during the weekend.
“The terrorists who were on their way to attack selected communities were ambushed by troops at Bilta, Borno State on receiving intelligence report of the terrorists’ intention.
“The attack was launched on the terrorists as they filed out of the forest to embark on their mission at about 10pm on Saturday.
“Over 50 terrorists died in the fierce encounter that ensued. The four soldiers who were wounded in the operation are currently receiving medical treatment in the military medical facility.”
Meanwhile, the people of Attagara, Aganjara and Agapalwa in Borno State have buried over 100 bodies almost a week after Boko Haram attacks.
Local leaders, Lawan Abba Kaka and John Gulla, told The Guardian of London on Monday, that many more victims of the last Tuesday and Wednesday attacks had yet to be found.
Ali Ndume, who represents Borno South in the senate, gave the breakdown of burials as 42 in Attagara; 24 in Aganjara and 20 in Agapalwa.
“From what those who fled told us, there are more corpses in nearby bushes and the mountain side,” he told reporters after a meeting in Maiduguri.
“Many people that fled the communities are also trapped on the hills, as they are without food or water,” Ndume added.
The United Nations has however expressed fears that half of the abducted Chibok schoolgirls might return home pregnant.
It raised the alarm during a luncheon in New York as part of the preparation for the June 10 global summit in London on sexual violence in conflict last Friday.
The UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Zainab Bangura, said, “My worry is that half of those girls don’t come back home pregnant.’’
She urged the international community to prepare the minds of the pupils’ families for their return and make available psychological and other support for the girls.
She said before the kidnap of the Chibok girls drew global attention, more than 2,000 girls had been abducted worldwide.
The UN representative was meeting with editors and the British ambassador to the United States in preparation for a first-time global summit on sexual violence in conflict which will hold in London between Tuesday( today) and Friday.
William Hague, the UK Foreign Secretary and Angelina Jolie, Special Envoy for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, are co-chairing the summit.
How to rescue the Chibok schoolgirls and provide them with needed support are expected to be an intense discussion at the summit.