How Boko Haram abducted humanitarian staff, policeman in Borno

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The Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), one of the two Boko Haram factions operating in Nigeria, has abducted an aid worker and a policeman in Borno state, THE ICIR reports.

The two separate incidents happened on 2 December at Kareto, a village about 80km to Damasak, headquarters of Mobbar local government area. They were taken away when the vehicles they were traveling in were stopped a checkpoint mounted by the group. 

According to eye witnesses, ISWAP fighters had stood at the checkpoint the previous day observing vehicles and passengers passing by before returning the following with some pictures. They compared the pictures with passengers in all the vehicles they stopped, an indication that they were looking for specific individuals.  

“They finally found one passenger who matched one of the pictures. When they told him that he was a staff of Red Cross (the ICIR has been informed that it was a Nigerian Red Cross), but he denied, so they brought another picture of him in a Nigerian Red Cross uniform. At that point, he did not say a word. So, they went away with him,” an eye witness reported.

Later that day, they stopped another vehicle and identified a passenger they said was a Nigerian Police Force personnel. The man denied being a policeman but they told him they recognised him at the Damasak police division and went away with him.

Drivers in Maiduguri confirmed the incident and said all their members refused to ply the Maiduguri-Damasak road the next day out of fear. While some drivers have since resumed, others have refused to ply the road.

According to The ICIR’s findings, ISWAP was very active around Kareto for three days before the abductions. Due to the rife insecurity in the area, which has made it difficult for civilians to live there, the Nigerian military on 29 November sent soldiers from its base in Damasak to clear and prepare the village for military deployment. However, the following day, 30 November, ISWAP fighters attacked the town and burnt down the entire village, including the newly built houses meant for civilian occupation.   

As at the time of filing this report, drivers continued to report the existence of the checkpoint at Kareto.

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