Suspected Nigeria Islamists Kidnap 60 Women in Northeast

Suspected Boko Haram militants abducted 60 women from two villages in northeastern Nigeria, a security official said, less than a week after the government announced it had reached a truce with the Islamist group.

The women were taken over the weekend from the Madagali district of the northeastern state of Adamawa, the Nigerian security official said, asking not to be identified because he isn’t authorized to speak to reporters.

The area has been under the militants’ control for about two months, the official said by phone, adding that the attackers entered the villages on motorbikes and in vans. Military spokesman Major-General Chris Olukolade, based in the capital, Abuja, didn’t answer calls to his mobile phone today.

On Oct. 17, the government said the Islamist group had signaled willingness to discuss the release of more than 200 schoolgirls that Boko Haram fighters abducted from the town of Chibok in April and threatened to sell into slavery.

Boko Haram, which roughly translates as “Western education is a sin,” has killed more than 13,000 people since 2009 in its campaign against the Nigerian state, President Goodluck Jonathan said last month, before the government announced it had agreed a cease-fire with the militants.

Since then, persistent violence in the northeast has eroded confidence in the cease-fire claim, with analysts and community leaders questioning the legitimacy of the reported deal.

‘Complex Battles’

“It’s our understanding that negotiations about a deal to release the girls continue,” U.S. Department of State spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters on Oct. 20.

Yesterday, Nigerian lawmakers completed the approval process for Jonathan’s request that the country borrow $1 billion to spend on beefing up its armed forces. Nigeria currently spends around $6 billion a year on security.

“The Nigeria military and security forces have had a long history of involvement in internal security operations globally,” Jonathan said at the opening of a conference on military cooperation with civilians in Abuja today.

“Today’s counter-insurgency operations represent complex and unpredictable battles against enemies, often concealed within civilian populations,” he said in remarks e-mailed by his office. He didn’t refer directly to Boko Haram or the government’s cease-fire announcement.

At least five people were killed and 12 injured in a blast at a bus park in northeastern Nigeria yesterday, police said.

Authorities have begun investigating the explosion in the town of Azare in Bauchi state, about 600 kilometers (370 miles) north of Abuja, police spokesman Haruna Mohammed said in an e-mailed statement.

“We heard a loud explosion at the motor park and we rushed to the area and found some people caught by the blast,” resident Muttaka Usman said by phone.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.

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