4 Nov 2010

Nigerian police rescue more than 200 women & children abducted by Islamic sect

BBC News - August 2, 2009

Nigerian police find sect women

Officials said the group were in a deplorable state

Police in northern Nigeria say they have found another group of women and children abducted by the Boko Haram sect, locked in a house in Maiduguri.

The group were in a deplorable condition, officials said, suffering from pneumonia, fever and rashes.

The military now says 700 people were killed in Maiduguri alone during violent clashes between police and the Islamic sect.

An earlier tally of victims of the unrest put the figure at 400.

Col Ben Ahanotu, head of security in Maiduguri, said that mass burials had begun there.

The Boko Haram compound, he said, was being used as one of the burial sites because bodies were decomposing in the heat.

More than 200 women and children have now been found over the last week, locked in buildings in Maiduguri.

The most recent group of 140 is being housed at the local police headquarters, and have been visited by the Red Cross and the National Emergency Authority.

A Red Cross official told the BBC in Maiduguri that the women had been abducted by Boko Haram from six different states across northern Nigeria.

Last week, the police rescued about a 100 young women and children from a house on the edge of the city. Many said they were the wives of sect members, and had been forced to travel to Maiduguri from Bauchi state.

The BBC reporter in Maiduguri says the Boko Haram sect believed that their families should accompany them to the battlefield.

The compound used by the Boko Haram sect was destroyed by government troops and is now smouldering rubble.

More members of the sect have been arrested in house-to-house searches across northern Nigeria and the military said most would be prosecuted.

Life in the affected areas is now beginning to return to normal with banks and markets reopening.

Maiduguri is the capital of Borno state but the fighting spread to cities across the north of the country and the total number of dead is unknown.

A military spokesman said two of those killed were soldiers and 13 were police officers.

The number of injured, meanwhile, is still being counted. The Red Cross had earlier said about 3,500 people fled the fighting.

The violence ended on Thursday when the sect's leader, Mohammed Yusuf, was killed by police.

The controversy surrounding his death continues. The police say he was killed in a shoot-out while he was being detained. But Col Ahanotu says he captured him and handed him over alive.

This article was found at:



USA Today - Associated Press - August 2, 2009

Violent sect members still at large in Nigeria

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (AP) — Government forces hunted on Sunday for surviving members of a radical Islamist sect after heavy fighting left at least 700 people dead and buildings and cars scorched.

No new fighting was reported but a military commander told The Associated Press that many sect members were still at large. Armed with machine guns, government troops sweating in tropical heat guarded the rubble of the sect's headquarters in this northern Nigerian city.

Moderate Muslim clerics and scholars said they had warned government officials about the sect's violent tendencies — and that the alarms went unheeded before Boko Haram militants attacked a police station in Bauchi state on July 26. Violence quickly spread to three other states before Nigerian forces retaliated, storming the group's Maiduguri compound.

Boko Haram is also known as the Nigerian Taliban. No direct link to al-Qaeda has emerged but the bloodshed comes amid mounting concern about al-Qaeda affiliates' ability to cross desert borders of North Africa. Many Boko Haram members were purportedly from neighboring Niger.

Boko Haram — translated as "Western education is sacrilege" — seeks the imposition of strict Islamic Shariah law in Nigeria, a multi-religious country that is a major oil producer and Africa's most populous nation. Sect leader MohamedYusuf was killed on Thursday. Suspicions that he had been executed after being captured grew deeper after a photo emerged Sunday on news websites showing him in custody of soldiers with only a wound to an arm.

Army Col. Ben Ahanotu said he personally arrested Yusuf in a goat pen and handed him over alive to police, who later claimed he died in a shootout. Police officials did not return calls seeking comment.

About 700 people were killed in Maiduguri alone, Ahanotu said. The death toll in other northern areas is unknown. Human rights groups claim civilians were also slain during the hunt for sect members.

"Only Allah knows how many lives have been lost," said Ibrahim Ahmed Abdullahi, a local imam or cleric, said Saturday. Abdullahi said he knew the sect's charismatic leader for 14 years. They had been friends but fell out when Yusuf began advocating violence.

More than 50 Muslim leaders repeatedly urged Nigeria's police, local authorities and state security to take action against the militants, but their pleas were ignored, Abdullahi said Saturday. Other scholars sitting with him on cheap plastic mats in a Maiduguri slum nodded in agreement.

"We used to call the government and security agents to say that these people must be stopped from what they are doing because it must bring a lot of trouble," Abdullahi said.

Christopher Dega, police chief in Borno state where the group had its compound, said authorities had been monitoring the sect and recognized it as a long-standing problem. It was not immediately clear if police received specific warnings about the July 26 attack.

Ahanotu said many sect members are still at large.

"After I arrested Mohamed Yusuf, I monitored his phone. They were calling from all over the place," he said. "There are lots of them still around ... only a few of them are still dangerous."

Ahanotu said he recommended several times that action be taken against the group but received no orders to do so.

"I complained a lot of times," he said. "I was told something would be done."

Burned-out cars lay upended Sunday in front of scorched police stations. The bodies were all gone — buried in mass graves.

Most sect members are young, unemployed and angry that the introduction of moderate Shariah law in 12 impoverished northern states 10 years ago has not halted the corruption that keeps most Nigerians in desperate poverty. Small green road signs in Maiduguri read "Fear Allah," but they are dwarfed by the huge billboards that trumpet the achievements of politicians.

On Sunday, the opposition Action Congress party released a statement criticizing the government for not tackling what it described as a key recruiting tool for groups like Boko Haram: the abject poverty of the north.

"When millions of our youths are unemployed and there is no hope of a better tomorrow, they become easy targets for apocalyptic preachers and mindless religious zealots," it said. "That is why this federal government must shake off its lethargy and address the myriad of problems facing this nation, so that our youths can channel their energies to productive ventures instead of becoming killing machines."

This article was found at:


No comments:

Post a Comment