GARKIN FULANI, Nigeria — Twenty more girls have been kidnapped from a village near Chibok, where Boko Haram insurgents kidnapped nearly 300 schoolgirls on April 15. It is suspected that the Islamist extremist group is also behind these attacks.
On Thursday, June 5, Boko Haram fighters pulled up to the village of Garkin Fulani as it was preparing for its weekly market and started herding young women into the truck at gunpoint. Alhaji Tar, a member of a vigilante resistance group, stated that three men who tried to resist the attackers were also taken.
“We tried to go after them when the news got to us about three hours later, but the vehicles we have could not go far, and the report came to us a little bit late.”
This is only one of several recent attacks by Boko Haram on the area surrounding Chibok. On May 5, at least eight girls were kidnapped from two villages in the area, and on June 7, two elderly women were taken from a third village.
A member of the state government said that the raid took several hours but that the national military was nowhere to be seen.
On June 9, following the most recent kidnapping, Nigeria’s Defense Headquarters claimed that Boko Haram raids were prevented in Borno and Adamawa. Defense spokesman Chris Oluklade stated that 50 Boko Haram militants were killed in the attempted attacks over the weekend.
However, Nigeria’s citizens continue to express concerns that their government is not protecting them, and the unrelenting violence of Boko Haram in the northeast region of the country seems to support their claims.
Left to defend themselves against extremists, many communities have established vigilante groups such as the one to which Alhaji Tar belongs. But these groups lack the resources that both the Nigerian military and Boko Haram possess. They fight with weapons fashioned out of old car parts against the heavy machine guns and rocket launchers of Boko Haram.
Jibrin Ibrahim, director of the Abuja office of the Center for Democracy and Development, stated that insurgents like Boko Haram “have a free hand to do whatever they want.”
In light of the April kidnapping, several foreign nations have sent resources to aid the search for the young women still missing. The U.S. says it is dispatching drones and soldiers, the UK has sent a surveillance plane, China has offered the use of satellite data and France is currently gathering intelligence in neighboring French-speaking nations.
Nearly two months after the kidnapping, none of the involved nations have confirmed any progress in the search, and tensions are beginning to build. U.S. officials doubt Nigerian accounts that the missing girls have been located, and Nigerian politicians are showing discomfort at accepting military assistance.
The ultimate goal of Boko Haram is the creation of an Islamic state within Nigeria. It is likely that the attacks and kidnappings that have occurred over the past five years will continue until the Nigerian government backs up its commitment to protect its most vulnerable citizens from these extremist groups.