New Straits Times report put Nigeria military actions and inactions in the spotlight.....
Boko Haram attack kills hundreds in Nigeria
Officials estimate the death toll at 300 in town left unguarded during attempts to rescue missing schoolgirls.
Last updated: 07 May 2014 22:05
|A Boko Haram attack has killed hundreds in Nigeria's northeast, multiple sources have said, as police offered $300,000 for information leading to the rescue of more than 200 schoolgirls held hostage by the armed group.|
The latest attack reported on Wednesday targeted the town of Gamboru Ngala on the border with Cameroon, where gunmen earlier this week razed scores of buildings and fired on civilians as they tried to flee.
Area Senator Ahmed Zanna put the death toll at 300, in an account supported by numerous residents.
Zanna said the town had been left unguarded because soldiers based there had been redeployed north towards Lake Chad in an effort to rescue more than 200 girls kidnapped by Boko Haram on April 14.
The mass abduction has sparked global outrage and offers of help from the United States, Britain, France and China.
Nigeria's response to the kidnappings has been widely criticised, including by activists and parents of the hostages who say the military's search operation has been inept so far.
President Goodluck Jonathan's administration has sought to appear more engaged with the plight of the hostages in recent days, especially after Boko Haram chief Abubakar Shekau released a video threatening to sell the girls as "slaves".
In a second kidnapping, another 11 girls aged 12 to 15 were seized on Sunday from Gwoza, an area not far from Chibok and also in Borno state, Boko Haram's base.
Boko Haram's five-year uprising has killed thousands across Africa's most populous country, with many questioning whether Nigeria has the capacity to contain the violence.
Reward for arrest of armed group
Meanwhile, police on Wednesday offered a $300,000 reward to anyone who could provide information leading to the rescue of the schoolgirls.
"The Nigeria police hereby announce a cash reward of 50m naira to anyone who volunteers credible information that will lead to the location and rescue of the female students abducted from Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State," the police said in a statement.
The police also released six phone numbers and urged Nigerians to call.
Abubakar Shekau, a Boko Haram leader, threatened in a video to sell the girls who were taken from the secondary school in the village of Chibok "on the market".
Nigerian leaders also accepted an offer by the US to send a team to the country to help search for the missing girls.
The US team consists of "military, law enforcement, and other agencies", US President Barack Obama said in an interview with US broadcaster ABC, and will work to "identify where in fact these girls might be and provide them help".
Obama also denounced Boko Haram as "one of the worst regional or local terrorist organisations".
"This may be the event that helps to mobilise the entire international community to finally do something against this horrendous organisation that's perpetrated such a terrible crime," he said.
US joins search for abducted Nigerian girls
Military and law enforcement experts sent to Nigeria to help find nearly 300 girls and women abducted by Boko Haram.
Last updated: 07 May 2014 10:08
|The United States has sent a team of experts to Nigeria to help find nearly 300 girls and women abducted from a school last month by the armed group Boko Haram.|
US President Barack Obama described the kidnapping of the girls as "heartbreaking" and "outrageous", soon after residents said the group had seized eight more girls, aged between 12 and 15, again in the embattled northeast.
Obama urged global action against Boko Haram and confirmed Nigerian leaders had accepted an offer to deploy US personnel there.
The number of girls taken int he latest kidnapping has risen to 11, an official in the restive northeast said on Wednesday.Residents initially said eight girls were taken when gunmen stormed a village in the Gwoza area of Borno state late on Sunday.
Gwoza official Hamba Tada told AFP the attackers snatched three more girls in a neighbouring village.
"After leaving Warabe the gunmen stormed the Wala village, which is five kilometres (three miles) away and abducted three more girls," he told AFP, referring to the two villages.
Shekau criticised the female students for being taught "western education", which the Islamic group is avidly against. He also warned that his group planned to attack more schools and abduct more people.
Speaking to US broadcaster ABC, Obama said: "It's a heartbreaking situation, outrageous situation."
"This may be the event that helps to mobilise the entire international community to finally do something against this horrendous organisation that's perpetrated such a terrible crime," he added.
The team sent to Nigeria consists of "military, law enforcement, and other agencies", Obama said, and will work to "identify where in fact these girls might be and provide them help".
He denounced Boko Haram as "one of the worst regional or local terrorist organisations".
US officials have voiced fears that those abducted, who are aged between 16 and 18, have already been smuggled into neighbouring countries, such as Chad and Cameroon. The governments of both denied those abducted were in their countries.
Their fate has sparked global outrage and may constitute a crime against humanity according to the UN.
Parents of those taken said Shekau's video had made an already horrifying situation even worse."All along, we have been imagining what could happen to our daughters in the hands of these heinous people," one mother, Lawal Zanna, told AFP news agency by phone from Chibok.
The latest kidnappings also took place in Borno state.
"They forcefully took away eight girls between the ages of 12 and 15," he said, in an account confirmed by other witnesses.
He said the attackers did not kill anyone, which was "surprising", and suggested that abducting girls was the motive for the attack.
Another Warabe resident, Peter Gombo, told AFP that the military and police had not yet deployed to the area.
"We have no security here. If the gunmen decide to pick our own girls, nobody can stop them."
Though initially slow to emerge, global outrage has flared over the mass abduction in Chibok, where Boko Haram stormed their school and loaded the girls at gunpoint onto trucks.
Several managed to escape but over 220 girls are still being held, according to police, with other sources saying the number is closer to 300.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague called the kidnappings "disgusting".
Egypt's prestigious Islamic institute Al-Azhar, which runs the main Sunni Islamic university in the region, said harming the girls "completely contradicts the teachings of Islam".
New Straits Times report put Nigeria military actions and inactions in the spotlight.....
Nigeria 'arrests abduction protest leaders'
First Lady accused of ordering arrest of women leading protests over abduction of 276 girls, saying incident fabricated.
Last updated: 05 May 2014 12:09
A leader of a protest march for 276 missing schoolgirls has said that Nigeria's First Lady ordered her and another protest leader to be arrested, expressing doubts that there had been any kidnapping and accused them of belonging to the group blamed for the abductions.
Saratu Angus Ndirpaya, from of Chibok where the kidnappings took place, said state security service agents drove her and protest leader Naomi Mutah Nyadar to a police station on Monday after an all-night meeting at the presidential villa in Abuja, the capital.
She said police immediately released her but that Nyadar remains in detention.
A national police spokesman referred a journalist to the spokeswoman for police in Abuja. Reached on the phone, the spokeswoman said she was driving and could not immediately respond, the AP news agency reported.
Other reports said three women had been arrested on Sunday night.
Ndirpaya says First Lady Patience Jonathan accused them of fabricating the abductions.
"She [Jonathan] told so many lies, that we just wanted the government of Nigeria to have a bad name, that we did not want to support her husband's rule," she said in a telephone interview with AP.
Ndirpaya said other women at the meeting cheered and chanted "yes, yes," when the first lady accused them of belonging to Boko Haram, the group accused of kidnapping the girls.
"They said we are Boko Haram, and that Mrs Nyadar is a member of Boko Haram."
She said Nyadar and herself do not have daughters among those abducted, but are supporting the mothers of the kidnapped daughters.
Boko Haram reponsible
Boko Haram on Monday said it was responsible for the abduction of the 276 schoolgirls, the AFP news agency reported.
"I abducted your girls," the group's leader Abubakar Shekau said in the 57-minute video obtained by the agency, referring to the hundreds of students kidnapped from their school in Chibok, Borno state, on April 14.
Fifty-three of the girls managed to escape from the fighters, who want to introduce Islamic law in the country, but 223 were still being held, state police said last Friday.
The mass abduction and failure to rescue the girls, now in a fourth week of captivity, is a source of deep embarrassment to Jonathan and his government, which is accused of insensitivity to the girls' plight and not doing enough to rescue them.
In a televised "media chat" on Sunday night, Jonathan promised his administration is doing everything possible and called for international help to find the girls.
On Friday, he created a presidential committee to go to Borno state to work with the community on a strategy for the release of the girls.