Despite government claims of a ceasefire that will supposedly lead to the release of more than 200 girls abducted by Boko Haram, members of the Islamist terror group have abducted at least 60 young women and girls from Christian villages in northeast Nigeria, residents said Thursday.
The heavily armed fighters left 1,500 naira, or about $9, and kolanuts as a bride price for each of the women abducted Saturday, suggesting that they would be taken as sex slaves, residents told CNN.
The latest abductions in the villages of Wagga and Gwarta raise serious questions about recent Nigerian government claims that more than 200 girls abducted by Boko Haram in April would be released soon as part of a ceasefire with the Islamist militants.
Boko Haram has remained silent on the deal the government said it signed with the group in neighboring Chad last week. Nigerian officials have emphasized there is no set time line for the release, which will likely happen on a piecemeal basis instead of all at once.
Boko Haram, meanwhile, has let its weapons do the talking, continuing five years of violence. Over the weekend, gunmen believed to be Boko Haram fighters attacked two villages and a town, killing at least eight people and kidnapping others.
Residents of Wagga, near a town where more than 200 girls were abducted in April, told CNN that heavily armed fighters stormed the village Saturday and took away 40 women by force.
The gunmen went door to door, seizing women and young girls and driving off in vans and motorcycles with them into the bush, resident Lazarus Baushe said.
Enoch Mark, a priest from Chibok whose daughter and niece were among the more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped in April in Chibok, said he received a call from an elder in Wagga on Saturday with word of the 40 women being abducted.
In Garta, another 20 women were abducted, and three people were killed, resident Solomon Bature told CNN.
Residents of Pina, a nearby village, managed to escape into the mountains before the gunmen arrived, resident Bulus Maiyaki told CNN. Maiyaki said two residents were shot and killed.
David Cook, who studies jihad, has doubts about the ceasefire deal going through.
"It remains to be seen whether this truce will actually materialize, whether it is merely an election ploy for Nigeria's embattled President, Goodluck Jonathan, and most crucially whether it will bring about the release of numerous captives taken by Boko Haram during the past year," he wrote in an analysis for CNN.
The Islamists have employed particularly bloody tactics this year, killing thousands.
Boko Haram has gone after Christians, foreigners and educated people, driving them out of the country's northeast. And they have continued kidnapping.
They have often sidelined Nigeria's army. And government soldiers have at times mutinied, complaining of lacking support from the government.
Boko Haram has been waging an insurgency in the country's north since 2009.