Friday, May 16, 2014

World News: Nigerian vigilantes kill Islamic militants

Bloodshed and unrest continues in Nigeria in the aftermath of an African terrorist group kidnapping over 300 schoolgirls that has gained global attention.

Vigilante groups have been springing up in north Nigeria over the past year amid accusations that the military isn't acting fast enough against the Islamic extremists who are holding the girls captive, according to a report from the Associated Press. 

In Kalabalge, a village about 155 miles from Borno's capital of Maiduguri, residents took matters into their own hands. On Tuesday morning after learning about an impending attack by militants, villagers ambushed two trucks with gunmen, residents and security officials told the AP. At least 10 militants were detained and scores were killed. It's not clear where the militants are being held. After residents organized the vigilante group, residents said it's why most attacks by Boko Haram on their village fail.

Borno is where the girls were kidnapped last month and one of three Nigerian states where President Goodluck Jonathan has imposed a state of emergency, giving the military special powers to fight the Islamic extremist group, whose stronghold is in northeast Nigeria. Britain and the U.S. are now actively involved in the effort to rescue the missing girls.

At least 276 of them are still held captive, with the group's leader threatening to sell them into slavery. In a video released this week, the leader offered to release the girls in exchange for freedom of jailed Boko Haram members. Nigerian officials have said options for negotiating are open in efforts to find the missing girls.

Meanwhile, Nigerians there and abroad are holding protests, dressed in red and holding banners that read #BringBackOurGirls, calling for more to be done. 

The AP reported that Nigerian government forces have been accused of committing human rights abuses, charges denied by the military, and the threat from Boko Haram has appeared to intensify. The human rights group Amnesty International told the AP that Nigeria's military had advance warning of a possible Boko Haram attack before the April 15 kidnappings in Chibok but did not react because of their fear of engaging the extremists.

The Pentagon said Wednesday the United States is using surveillance drones to aid in the search for the kidnapped Nigerian girls, and almost 300 Marines have been moved to a naval air station in Sicily in response to growing unrest in Africa, the AP reported. President Goodluck Jonathan will meet with heads of state and representatives from Benin, Chad, Niger and Cameroon this weekend in Paris to discuss the fight against Boko Haram.

Boko Haram has killed more than 1,500 people this year. Nigerian security forced the militants out of urban centers but have struggled for months to dislodge the group from hideouts in mountain caves and the Sambisa forest. Last week, as the world focused on the abducted schoolgirls, Islamic militants attacked the town of Gamboru in Borno state, killing at least 50 people. 

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