By BosNewsLife Africa Service
ABUJA, NIGERIA (BosNewsLife)– Hope was fading Sunday, October 19, that more than 200 Christian schoolgirls kidnapped in Nigeria would be released by the Islamist Boko Haram group, as violence continued despite an announced ceasefire agreement with the government.
Earlier Nigeria’s leadership said it aims to have the girls freed by Tuesday, October 21, following talks with Boko Haram, or ‘Western education is sinfull’, which wants to establish a strict Islamic state.
Yet the truce was shattered by at least five attacks, blamed by security sources on the insurgents, killing dozens. Talks on releasing the girls were scheduled to continue in neighboring Chad on Monday, October 20.
However the latest setbacks frustrated parents. “We were in jubilation. We had every reason to be happy … but since then the ceasefire has been broken in quite a number of places already,” Lawan Abana, a parent of one of the missing girls, said in published remarks.
It came while several towns and villages in Borno state were reportedly attacked over the weekend, leaving at least 40 people dead, including the father of Goni Ali Modu, a former speaker of the state’s regional parliament.
Nigerian media said Boko Haram began attacking the town of Shaffa in Hawul local government area of Borno State where they killed eight locals and injured several others. Hundreds of residents reportedly fled their homes.
The gunmen later returned back to the town to attack local security forces who attempted to pick up the human remains of those who died for burial.
These were no isolated incidents: In late September at least 20 people including a school teacher were killed in the town by Boko Haram insurgents, who also set dozens of homes ablaze, reports said.
Separately fighters attacked Abadam village in the northern part of Borno state where they reportedly beheaded several villagers including the elderly father of parliamentary speaker Goni Ali Modu.
Its remote location between desert sand dunes, about 200 kilometers (125 miles) north of the state capital Maiduguri, made it apparently difficult for Nigerian forces to intervene.
Residents who escaped spoke of “serial killings of helpless residents” by Boko Haram fighters.
The violence added to concerns about the situation of the Christian school girls and young women, many of whom were reportedly forced to embrace Islam.
Their April abduction from the Chibok school sparked a worldwide campaign for their freedom.
The violence, seen as the biggest security threat to Africa’s top economy, has involved the kidnapping of hundreds of girls, women and boys, including many Christians.
Boko Haram has warned Christians to leave northern regions of Nigeria if they do not embrace Islam.
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