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Boko Haram abduct dozen girls in southern Niger

AFP , Saturday 24 Nov 2018
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Suspected members of Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram abducted around a dozen girls in raids on several border villages in southeastern Niger, a local councillor and an NGO said Saturday.

"We still don't know the number but we can estimate a dozen girls have been abducted from different villages," the Diffa regional councillor told AFP on condition of anonymity.

A source close to the regional governor confirmed as much without giving further details.

"The terrorist group Boko Haram abducted 16 young girls in two villages in Toumour commune," said Kaka Touda, a human rights activist with the Alternative Espace Citoyen NGO in Diffa.

Touda said nine girls had been kidnapped in the village of Blaharde and seven more in Bague.

One local source said "more than 50" assailants carried out the abductions.

The Boko Haram insurgency is in its ninth year and has left 20,000 people dead and 2.6 million displaced.

The group has also targeted soldiers and civilians in separate attacks in neighbouring Chad and Niger.

The latest abductions come two days after seven local employees of a French drilling firm and a government official were killed in southeast Niger after suspected Boko Haram gunmen stormed their compound.

That attack shattered months of relative calm in the Diffa region near the Lake Chad basin, a strategic area where the borders of four countries converge.

Last week, NGOs marked 500 days since the July 2017 kidnapping of 33 women and six boys at NGalewa, another Diffa village, renewing calls for the government to step up efforts to secure their release.

Boko Haram has repeatedly attacked Diffa, a region of some 600,000 inhabitants over the past four years, displacing around half of the local population, according to NGOs.

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