07 Jun 2023, 09:37

30 herders kidnapped in northeast Nigeria: sources

KANO, Nigeria, June 7, 2023 (BSS/AFP) - Boko Haram jihadists have kidnapped 30 ethnic Fulani herders near northeast Nigeria's Lake Chad, demanding ransom for their release, fishermen and the head of an anti-jihadist militia told AFP Tuesday.

The militants in eight boats stormed the fishing and herding villages of Tudun Kwastan, Kwatar Turare and Kwatar Kuwait on the shores of the lake on Friday, seizing 30 herders, including men and women, the sources said.

"The Boko Haram insurgents went to selected Fulani homes in the villages and took away 30 men and women," Labo Sani, a fisherman from nearby Doron Baga, told AFP.

"They left a message asking the hostages' families to raise 20 million naira ($43,000) for their release," Labo said.

The militants demanded the ransom be delivered to Musaram island, where the hostages would be released to their families, said Sallau Arzika, another fisherman.

Since Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) split from Boko Haram in 2016, it has seized control of most territory from Boko Haram, including around Lake Chad, where it now has a strong presence.

The group allowed fishermen and herders to fish and graze in its territory after paying tax, providing it with a huge source of income, the two fishermen said.

Boko Haram, which lacks such sources of income, is desperately looking for cash and decided to abduct the herders to squeeze money from them, anti-jihadist militia in the region said.

"The kidnap was purely for money, and as long as the herders raise the money Boko Haram demanded, the hostages will be released," said the militia leader.

But he warned that payment would not bring an end to the kidnappings.

"The Fulani herders in the Doron Baga area have started leaving for fear of more kidnappings," said the militia leader.

The jihadist conflict, which started in 2019, has killed more than 40,000 people and displaced about two million in the northeast, according to the United Nations.

Nigeria's new president, Bola Tinubu, who was sworn in at the end of May as the head of Africa's most populous country and the continent's largest economy, faces a host of security challenges.

Like his predecessors, he has promised to make the fight against insecurity "his top priority".

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