Nigerian Islamists grab more hostages

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Islamists extremists have abducted 60 more girls and women and 31 boys from villages in north-east Nigeria, according to witnesses.

Security forces denied the kidnappings, and there was no independent confirmation of the report from Kummabza, 95 miles from Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state and headquarters of a military state of emergency that has failed to curtail near-daily attacks by Boko Haram fighters.

Aji Khalil, of a local anti-Boko Haram group, said the abductions took place on Saturday in an attack in which four villagers were killed.

A senior local councillor from the village’s Damboa local government said elderly survivors of the attack had walked 15 miles to the relative safety of other villages. The Damboa council secretary, Modu Mustapha, said he could not confirm or deny the abductions.

Nigeria’s government and military have been widely criticised for their slow response to the abductions of more than 200 schoolgirls on April 15. Boko Haram has been demanding the release of detained members in exchange for its hostages.

President Goodluck Jonathan has said he will not consider a swap deal with the militants.

A strategy to rescue the girls kidnapped in April appears to have reached an impasse. 
Nigeria’s military has said it knows where they are but fears their abductors would kill them if any military action is taken.

The first lady, Patience Jonathan, and some other supporters have claimed the reports of the April abductions were fabricated to discredit her husband’s administration, but last week a presidential committee stressed that they did happen.