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More than 60 female captives escape Boko Haram – report
July 7, 2014, 6:56 am

The Boko Haram group have razed buildings and entire villages in Nigeria's northeast. On Friday, they failed to seize control of a military base in Borno State [AP]

The Boko Haram group have razed buildings and entire villages in Nigeria’s northeast. On Friday, they failed to seize control of a military base in Borno State [AP]

A senior security official has confirmed reports that up to 63 women and girls abducted by the Islamist secessionist group Boko Haram in Nigeria last month have managed to escape.

The security official, who preferred anonymity because he has not been cleared to talk to the media, confirmed earlier testimony from a vigilante leader who has been searching for nearly 200 women and girls kidnapped from their school in Chibok near Maiduguri, capital of the northern state of Borno.

There are as yet unconfirmed reports that the escaped women were from the town of Damboa. Boko Haram attacked and burned much of the village last month.

Meanwhile, pressure has been mounting on the Nigerian government to take action to rescue the remaining 200 or so girls yet in captivity.

A heated disagreement on how to rescue the other abductees flared between Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan and his senior military brass in May.

The Nigerian military says it knows where the captive girls are being held but it fears launching any rescue operation could likely result fatally for the girls.

Nigerian media also reported that Jonathan had received a video of the girls pleading for a prisoner exchange that could secure their release. But the president, apparently after consultations with foreign allies, has refused to release prisoners in a reported swap agreement.

Boko Haram has added pressure on the government by launching a series of brazen attacks which have left hundreds killed and injured.

On Friday, the Nigerian army reported that at least 50 Boko Haram fighters were killed as they tried to storm and seize a military base in Borno state.

Six soldiers also died, the army said.

Boko Haram debuted on the Nigerian stage in 2002 and has been calling for an end to secular-based law, to be replaced with Islamic Sharia law. It has been fighting government forces and raiding villages ever since, particularly in the country’s northeast.

The uptick in Boko Haram attacks in the northeastern states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa appears to come in response to a Nigerian military operation, which began last summer, to uproot the hard-line Islamist group, and a declaration of a state of emergency by Jonathan.

In early May, Egypt’s Al-Azhar Mosque, the highest seat of jurisprudence and learning in Sunni Islam, called on the Boko Haram Islamist separatist group in Nigeria to release all female schoolgirls taken captive.

In a statement on May 6, the Al-Azhar Mosque said that the kidnapping of the girls on April 14 “does not relate to the noble teachings of Islam in any way. Al-Azhar demands the release of these girls immediately”.

Further reading: Nigeria blast kills scores
Nigeria urges UN help to fight Boko Haram

Source: Agencies

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