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UPDATE 3-Nigeria's Boko Haram behind schoolboys' abduction -audio message

GlobalDec 15, 2020 23:06
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© Reuters.

* Over 300 students kidnapped last week in northwest Nigeria
* Audio clip says Boko Haram were behind the abductions
* Claim could signal widening influence of jihadist groups
* Worried parents urge government to secure boys' release

(Adds U.S. State Department comment)
MAIDUGURI, Nigeria, Dec 15 (Reuters) - A man identifying
himself as the leader of Nigeria's Boko Haram said on Tuesday
the Islamist group was behind the abduction of more than 300
schoolboys, as anxious parents begged the government to secure
their release.
Pupils who escaped kidnap on Friday, by jumping over the
fence of the Government Science secondary school in Katsina
state in northwestern Nigeria and fleeing through a forest, said
the attackers were armed with AK-47 assault rifles and rounded
up their victims before marching them off. Boko Haram, whose name means "Western education is
forbidden" in the local Hausa language, has waged an insurgency
in the northeast of Nigeria since 2009 but has not previously
claimed attacks in the northwest. The claims in the audio tape, if true, could mark a widening
influence of jihadist groups operating in northeastern Nigeria,
political analysts said.
They could also signal that jihadists have formed alliances
with militant groups operating in the Sahel, which could further
destabilise the impoverished north of Africa's most populous
nation which plays a pivotal role in regional stability.
The United States on Tuesday condemned "in the strongest
terms" the abduction and was investigating Boko Haram's claim, a
spokesperson for the State Department said.
Katsina state authorities said about 320 boys were missing
and Nigeria's government said it had spoken to the kidnappers,
who have sought a ransom from at least one parent.
"We're begging the government to please try their best to
get their release," Hajiya Ummi, whose 15-year-old son Mujtaba
is among those missing, said by telephone from her home in
Bakori town in Katsina.
"His friends told me he was sick in bed when the bandits
struck. He could hardly move but they dragged him out with the
rest of the abducted students," she said, her voice cracking
with emotion.
Katsina officials had ordered all of its state schools to
close because they did not know the attackers' motives.
Neighbouring Zamfara state on Monday also ordered its government
boarding schools to close, according to a circular seen by
Reuters.

AUDIO CLIP
In an audio message which reached Reuters via a WhatsApp
message, a man purporting to be Boko Haram leader Abubakar
Shekau said: "We are behind what happened in Katsina."
"What happened in Katsina was done to promote Islam and
discourage un-Islamic practices as Western education is not the
type of education permitted by Allah and his holy prophet," he
said.
No video footage was released of the missing boys.
The man offered no proof for his statement. Reuters was
unable to verify the audio and Nigerian authorities did not
immediately comment.
Spokesmen for the presidency, police and army did not
immediately respond to requests for comment.
Regional security experts said Boko Haram may not have been
involved in the abduction itself, but that the kidnappers could
have sold the boys to the Islamist group.
Cheta Nwanze, lead partner at Lagos-based risk consultancy
SBM intelligence, said huge swathes of northwest Nigeria were
ungoverned spaces where arms and people moved freely across
porous borders.
"There is a danger that jihadists operating in the Sahel
could potentially build alliances with groups that have
previously remained in northeast Nigeria. That would further
destabilise the region," Nwanze said.
A Monday attack in the southern Diffa region of Niger, which
borders Nigeria to the north, left 28 people dead and 800 homes
burned. The Diffa governor blamed the assault on Boko Haram.
Boko Haram carried out the 2014 kidnap of more than 200
girls from a school in the northeastern town of Chibok. About
half the girls have been found or freed, dozens have been
paraded in propaganda videos, and some are believed to be dead.
More than 30,000 people have been killed since Boko Haram
began its insurgency, aimed at creating an Islamic state.

<^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Boys escaped through forest after gunmen abducted their friends
at Nigeria school violence and insecurity affecting Nigeria ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^>

UPDATE 3-Nigeria's Boko Haram behind schoolboys' abduction -audio message
 

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