Suspected Boko Haram fighters have abducted more than 60 women and young girls in the past week in restive northeast Nigeria, a local official and a vigilante leader said Tuesday.
Boko Haram — which in April kidnapped more than 200 girls who still remain missing — is based in Nigeria’s largely Muslim north but seeks to impose its radical interpretation of Islamic Sharia law upon the rest of the country, whose population is split between Christians and Muslims.
The new kidnappings allegedly occurred during a Boko Haram attack on Kummabza village in the Damboa district of Borno state. The attack left at least 30 dead, according to residents who escaped the violence.
Nigeria's defense headquarters in Abuja said in a tweet late Monday that it had "yet to confirm the several reports on the abduction of girls in Borno.”
Reuters reported that Nigerian security forces are investigating the incident.
It was not clear why news of the attack and kidnapping has taken days to trickle in, but local officials seemed to confirm to several news outlets the veracity of the information.
"Over 60 women were hijacked and forcefully taken away by the terrorists,” one official told Agence France-Presse. “The village was also destroyed.”
The abductions are the latest to take place in Borno, which has been worst affected by the Boko Haram’s increasingly deadly five-year insurgency.
On April 14, Boko Haram kidnapped more than 200 teenage girls from their dormitories at a boarding school in Chibok, triggering global outrage and an international response to find the students.
The secretary of the Damboa local government, Modu Mustapha, neither confirmed nor denied the latest reported abductions.
Officials said they were afraid to speak out because of the controversy surrounding the abduction of the Chibok girls. Nigeria's government has been harshly criticized for its initial slow response to the incident.
Aji Khalil, a local vigilante leader said: "Over 60 women were abducted by Boko Haram terrorists. They were forcefully taken away by Boko Haram terrorists. Four villagers who tried to escape were shot dead on the spot."
Another resident who also wished to remain anonymous said the attackers also killed 30 men.
“Most men fled for their lives,” he said. "The attackers held the whole village hostage for the next three days."
Al Jazeera and wire services