Terrorists from the Boko Haram Islamist group in Nigeria have kidnapped more than 60 more women and girls in the northeast of the country, just months after abducting hundreds of schoolgirls in the same area.
One of the leaders of a local vigilante group set up to counter Boko Haram's rampage said the abductions took place in a series of villages on Saturday, and that the Islamists had also kidnapped 30 boys and young men, according to The Guardian.
"Some suspected Boko Haram members invaded … and kidnapped 91 persons. More than 60 married women and young girls as well as children, young men were forcefully taken away by Boko Haram terrorists. Four villagers who tried to escape were shot dead on the spot," said Aji Khalil.
His statement was backed by a local official in Borno state, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Muslim-majority northern Nigeria has been wracked by violence for years as Boko Haram embarks on a bloody campaign to impose an Islamic state, targeting government and military positions and killing Christians and Muslim rivals in a campaign of terror which left more than 1,500 dead in the first three months of 2014 alone. According to recent UN statistics, the fighting has left a total of 650,000 people displaced.
The Nigerian defense ministry has yet to comment on the abductions.
Back in April, nearly 300 schoolgirls were abducted from a school by Boko Haram in a mass kidnapping which triggered international outcry. According to a presidential committee investigating the abductions there were 395 students at the school at the time. 119 managed to avoid capture, while another 57 escaped in the first few of days of their abduction. 219 girls are still believed to be held by the group; a video released by the Islamists soon after showed them converting to Islam, presumably under duress.
Boko Haram's ruthless leader Abubakar Shekau previously gloated over the kidnappings and threatened to sell the girls as sex slaves.
Several countries have offered Nigeria support in finding the girls - including Israel, which has reportedly sent counterterrorism experts to the African nation.
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has claimed Nigerian intelligence agencies know where the girls are being held, but that any rescue operation would put their lives at risk at this point.
Earlier this month Boko Haram kidnapped yet another 20 women, bundling them into trucks and reportedly shuttling them to Borno state, the group's stronghold.