Boko Haram Islamists have abducted 22 girls and women in two separate raids in northeast Nigeria, according to residents and vigilantes.
In the first attack on Thursday, the jihadists raided the village of Pulka near border with Cameroon where they kidnapped 18 girls.
‘Boko Haram fighters from Mamman Nur camp arrived in pickup vans around 6am and seized 14 young girls aged 17 and below while residents fled into the bush,’ a Pulka community leader told AFP by phone.
‘They picked four other girls who were fleeing the raid they came across in the bush outside the village,’ said the community leader who asked not to be named for fear of reprisals.
According to the official, the attackers were loyal to the faction headed by Abu Musab Al-Barnawi, the son of Boko Haram founder Mohammed Yusuf.
Barnawi was appointed last year by the Islamic State group to replace leader Abubakar Shekau, who had pledged allegiance to the Middle East jihadist group in 2015.
Another resident confirmed the raid and said the girls were likely to end up as brides for the fighters.
‘They didn’t harm anyone during the raid and they made no attempt to shoot people running away from the village,’ said the resident.
In the second incident outside the village of Dumba, close to Lake Chad, the jihadists killed a herdsman who had tried to escape after refusing to pay protection money, said Adamu Ahmed, a member of an anti-Boko Haram militia.
When the Boko Haram gunmen came for the money they realized he had left with everything and they decided to go after him on their motorcycles,’ Ahmed said.
‘They caught up with him near Dumba where they slaughtered him and shot dead 50 of his cattle.
‘They took four women from the man’s family and the rest of the herd,’ he said.
The promotion of Barnawi had revealed divisions in the group, as Shekau had been criticised for mass killings and suicide attacks against civilians.
Barnawi and his right-hand man Mamman Nur, who is seen as the real leader, had promised residents in areas under their control would not be harmed as long as they did not cooperate with Nigerian troops fighting Boko Haram.
But in recent weeks the Islamist fighters have intensified raids in areas near Lake Chad, stealing food from residents.
They have also killed several civilians they accused of cooperating with the military.
Last year, Boko Haram released 21 girls who were held captive for more than two years.
In October 2016, 21 of the 200 Chibok schoolgirls, who were captured in 2014 by Boko Haram, were freed.
Officials said their release raised hopes for the release of the others.
The United Nations Security Council is calling for stepped up efforts to defeat the Boko Haram insurgency and Islamic State extremists in Nigeria and the Lake Chad region and tackle the humanitarian crisis that has left millions facing hunger.
A resolution adopted unanimously Friday strongly condemns attacks by the militant groups and encourages greater support to strengthen the capabilities of the multinational force trying to rout them.
It says the force needs logistical, mobility and communications assistance and equipment, and improved information sharing.
The resolution urges immediate disbursement of the $458 million in humanitarian assistance pledged for 2017 and calls on those who haven’t donated to contribute urgently.
The Security Council visited the Lake Chad region in early March and witnessed the impact of the extremist attacks and the humanitarian crisis.