Nearly two months after the abduction of over 300 schoolgirls in the Borno state town of Chibok, Boko Haram has reportedly kidnapped 20 women in northeastern Nigeria.
In today’s incident, gunmen arrived at the Garkin Fulani village, near Chibok, around noon and forced the women at gunpoint into their vehicles. Three men who tried to stop the attack were also taken. Although a Wall Street Journal report refers to the victims as “girls,” their age is not yet clear.
At the time of the attack, the girls were participating in preparations for the village’s weekly market. They were pulled into the assailants’ truck along with rice and instant noodles. Boko Haram members have attacked these types of markets in the past to stock up on needed goods.
Although the Nigerian military was unable to protect these women, it has been touting a successful operation it conducted over the weekend. On June 7, soldiers launched an ambush on terrorists as they exited a forest in northeastern Nigeria purportedly on their way to attack villages in Borno and Adamawa states. Nigerian forces killed over 50 militants in the operation, seizing weapons and vehicles from them.
Unfortunately, this success appears to be the exception, rather than the norm, when it comes to combating Boko Haram. In the past few months, the al Qaeda-linked terror group has been conducting deadly attacks with increased frequency in its fight to build an Islamic state in Nigeria. The group received international attention weeks after it kidnapped over 200 schoolgirls from their school on the night of April 14. Some of the girls have since managed to escape, but the majority of them remain captives of Boko Haram. The group staged several violent attacks last week, killing hundreds of civilians. and assassinated a local Muslim leader the week before.
Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is forbidden,” was designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the United States in November 2013. The group’s vocal leader, Abubakar Shekau, and two al Qaeda-linked Boko Haram leaders were added to the list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists in June 2012.
In its annual assessment of global trends in terrorism, the US State Department noted that the government of Nigeria has “made little progress” in addressing the grievances of Nigeria’s northern population. It advised the Nigerian government “to employ a more comprehensive strategy to address Boko Haram that combines security efforts with political and development efforts to reduce Boko Haram’s appeal, address the legitimate concerns of the people of northern Nigeria, and protect the rights of all of Nigeria’s citizens.”