KANO, Nigeria: The number of Nigerian girls taken in the latest kidnapping by Boko Haram Islamists has risen to 11, an official in the restive northeast said on Wednesday.
Residents initially said eight girls were taken when gunmen stormed a village in the Gwoza area of Borno state late on Sunday.
Gwoza official Hamba Tada told Agence France-Presse the attackers snatched three more girls in a neighboring village.
“After leaving Warabe the gunmen stormed the Wala village, which is five kilometers [three miles]away and abducted three more girls,” he told Agence France-Presse, referring to the two villages.
Boko Haram’s leader Abubakar Shekau said his extremists group abducted 276 girls from the nearby town of Chibok on April 14 and has threatened to “sell them in the market.”
Borno state is the epicenter of Boko Haram’s five-year Islamist uprising and the Gwoza area has been attacked repeatedly in the past.
Tada and witnesses said the latest unrest in the area was unusual as the insurgents did not kill or injure any of the village’s residents, suggesting that abducting girls was the motivation for the attack.
Speaking to US broadcaster ABC on Tuesday, US President Barack Obama described the Chibok abductions as “a heartbreaking situation.” Washington has deployed military experts to help hunt for the group.
Obama urged global action against Boko Haram and confirmed Nigerian leaders had accepted an offer to deploy US personnel there, soon after residents said the extremist group had seized eight more girls, aged between 12 and 15, again in the embattled northeast.
The first group of girls were taken three weeks ago, and concerns have been mounting about their fate after Boko Haram chief Abubakar Shekau claimed responsibility.
“This may be the event that helps to mobilize the entire international community to finally do something against this horrendous organization that’s perpetrated such a terrible crime,” he added.