As President Jonathan Goodluck and other the countries were deciding what should be done to curb Boko Haram, the Islamist sect struck again, this time kidnapping 20 women from north-eastern Nigeria. The brazen gunmen who attacked villages, killing schoolboys and murdering government officials, have kidnapped more students in recent reports. The 20 students who have abducted now join the 276 girls still held in captivity.
In addition to the recent murderous rampage by Boko Haram, the kidnapping only adds more reasons for concern. Boko Haram has been razing villages to the ground, attacking isolated villages in stealth and murdering anyone in their way. Civilian vigilantes have also taken on Boko Haram, but like an irrepressible pest, the Boko Haram have kept the string of attacks very active. The recent kidnapping of 20 women was reported to have occurred at Garkin Fulani, a settlement of the ethnic Fulani tribe. Adu Ibrahim, chairman of the local vigilante group Alhaji Tar, could not give any more information about the abduction that happened on June 9. While no one took responsibility for the act, it is assumed that the Boko Haram terrorists were involved in it as the kidnapping bore striking similarities to the operations of the terrorist sect.
The quiet village was preparing for its weekly market in Garkin Fulani, when it was reported that a tractor with insurgents began pulling girls into the truck. The village under attack is along the same road that leads to Chibok, the village that was home to the 276 women the Boko Haram kidnapped in April.
Despite recent efforts to increase security, military forces were not available to aid the helpless village. A vulnerable north-eastern Nigeria is now being protected by vigilante civilians instead of the military, a reminder of how weak the military system is in the region. Civilians, who waited for help during the raid that stretched over an hour, never received assistance according to a member of the state government. Ill-equipped, the civilians fight the Boko Haram insurgents with rifles – handmade weapons of wood and car parts. While the weapons are no match against the Boko Haram’s heavy machinery, it is the civilians only form of defense against the repeated attacks.
The military in Nigeria was not available for comment, but maintained that it did its best to deal with the recent surge of attacks. Terrorizing Nigeria since 2009, the Boko Haram have decapitated Christians and Muslims, broken open jails, razed villages and schools, bombed churches and government offices and kidnapped men and women alike. It is their kidnapping of 276 teenage girls from Chibok, that provoked the Nigerian government to take action.
It has been over nine weeks since the Chibok attack, but no significant information has been released about the search efforts. It is reported that the U.S. dispatched drones with 80 soldiers in Chad to guard the base, while the U.K. sent a surveillance plane and China offered satellite data. France chose not enter with military forces, but is gathering intelligence from Chad and Cameroon. The U.S. is doubtful about various Nigerian announcements from the military, and it is reported that Nigerian politicians, who historically refuse aid, are not comfortable with the U.S. participating in the efforts.
The attacks and kidnappings by Boko Haram have increased since April 14, with casualties on both sides. The attackers often strike market-places allowing them to stock up on provisions and kidnap hostages for ransom. Locals watched helplessly as the Boko Haram escaped with not just instant noodles and rice, but more significantly, in a tractor that also carried away 20 kidnapped women.
By Rathan Paul Harshavardan