Armed Men Kidnap 15 Girls in Southeastern Niger
NIAMEY, Niger — Armed men kidnapped 15 girls overnight in southeastern Niger, the local mayor said on Saturday.
Boukar Mani Orthe, the mayor of Toumour in the Diffa Region of Niger near the border with Nigeria, said about 50 unidentified armed men had seized the girls in a village about six miles from the town center.
There was no claim of responsibility, but Boko Haram, the Islamist extremist group, has used mass kidnappings of students as a tactic to terrorize the population.
In Cameroon earlier this month, dozens of students kidnapped from a boarding school were freed after being held hostage for about two days, according to local and military officials.
Boko Haram was not suspected of being behind the school kidnapping.
On Thursday, fighters suspected of belonging to Boko Haram killed eight people working at a water well site in Toumour operated by Foraco, a French drilling company.
“Last night at 2 a.m. local time, a group of terrorists attacked the small building where a Foraco team was sleeping and killed seven of them, plus one civil servant,” the company said in a statement.
Five other employees were wounded, with two in serious condition, it said. The workers were drilling two deep wells in the region for the water ministry.
Boko Haram has been waging an insurrection since 2009 that is aimed at establishing an Islamic state in northeast Nigeria. It has launched repeated attacks into neighboring Niger, Chad and Cameroon.
The violence has killed thousands of civilians and forced millions to flee their homes in the large Lake Chad basin region.
Nigeria’s military on Saturday acknowledged a major attack against it by Islamic extremists after opposition lawmakers said 44 soldiers were killed, while public pressure on President Muhammadu Buhari grew over the failure of his pledge to defeat Boko Haram, according to The Associated Press.
The military statement issued overnight did not say how many were dead after the Nov. 18 attack in Metele in the northeast, but it dismissed news reports citing even higher tolls and described the situation as under control. Nigeria is often reluctant to expose the number of casualties after such attacks.
As Mr. Buhari faces growing pressure over insecurity ahead of next year’s presidential election, an aide said the president had summoned military chiefs and sent the defense minister to neighboring Chad for an “urgent meeting” with President Idriss Déby. A multinational force combating Boko Haram is based in Chad.
Nigeria’s leader is “worried by Boko Haram’s renewed attacks on military bases,” the aide, Bashir Ahmad, said on Twitter.
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