The Federal Government, yesterday, denied reports of a mass kidnapping by Islamist group Boko Haram, in recently retaken Damasak, Borno State as widely reported.
“There is no fresh kidnapping in Damasak,” Coordinator of National information centre, Mike Omeri told AFP.
Residents of Damasak had claimed that the insurgents kidnapped over 400 women and children. “They took 506 young women and children, killing about 50 of them before leaving”, a trader, Souleymane Ali, told Reuters.
“We don’t know if they killed others after leaving, but they took the rest with them”.
Lt.-Col. Toumba Mohamed, the Nigerien commander of the Niger-Chad forces in Damasak also confirmed to Reuters that residents reported between 400 and 500 women and children kidnapped.
However, Omeri said Nigeria has no information about a mass abduction. A senator who represents the area and a senior intelligence source also cast doubt on the reports.
The alleged abduction is reminiscent of the April 14, 2014 abduction of more than 200 schoolgirls by the Boko Haram terrorists, which sparked global outcry and beamed spotlight on the security situation in the northeast. The girls are yet to be found.
Senator Maina Lawan, whose constituency includes Damasak, said: “I will be extremely surprised that such a huge number of my constituents would be abducted without me being informed.
“It is very unlikely that Boko Haram would have abducted such a huge number of people from Damasak because most of the people had fled months ago when Boko Haram took over.”
Vanguard quoted a senior intelligence source in Borno’s capital Maiduguri to have said there was “no iota of truth” to the mass abduction claims.