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Symbolbild Entführungen von Frauen und Mädchen in Nigeria
Image: AFP/Getty Images/P. U. Ekpei

Ban urges Boko Haram to free children

January 9, 2015

UN chief Ban Ki-moon has urged the Boko Haram, an Islamist militant group in Nigeria, to free hundreds of kidnapped schoolchildren. The group's leader has threatened to extend attacks to Cameroon.


UN Secretary-General Ban issued a personal appeal to Boko Haram early on Friday to "immediately and unconditionally" free hundreds of children seized in April 2014.

Ban said he issued the appeal "as a father and grandfather" in addition to his global role as UN chief. He called on Boko Haram to end what he called their "destruction of so many lives and communities."

In the most prominent case, Boko Haram kidnapped 276 schoolgirls in April of last year. More than 200 remain missing.

Sa'ad Belo, a refugee camp coordinator in Nigeria's Adamawa state, said his team had been able to reunite seven children with their parents but added that hundreds remained alone after families fled into Cameroon.

Shekau threatens escalation

In a video posted on YouTube, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau threatened to escalate attacks from northeastern Nigeria into Cameroon.

Referring to Nigeria's February 14 presidential election, Shekau said: "A man cannot be a Muslim without rebelling against democracy."

Cameroon's Biya calls for help

On Thursday, Cameroon President Paul Biya called for international military help to repel the Boko Haram insurgency.

He said Cameroonian troops sent to his country's northern region had killed numerous Islamist fighters but said Boko Haram "remains capable of bouncing back."

Kamerun Präsident Paul Biya Archivbild 30.01.2013
Biya warns that Boko Haram could "bounce back"Image: Patrick Kovarik/AFP/Getty Images

Biya said he regretted that a regional military force against the Islamists, discussed at a recent summit in Paris, had not yet been established.

Early on Friday, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini expressed shock over reports that Boko Haram had killed possibly hundreds of residents of villages located around the town of Baga in Bono state in northeastern Nigeria.

Baga residents flee into Chad

Local media said Baga residents had fled north into neighboring Chad.

In Geneva, the UN Refugee Agency put the influx into Chad in recent days at some 7,300. Baga lies close to Lake Chad, where the borders of Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon intersect.

DW correspondent Jan-Philipp Scholz said reports indicated that Boko Haram had destroyed the town of Baga but an estimate of up to 2,000 deaths had been dismissed.

Scholz said Boko Haram's impact stemmed from "weakness" within the Nigerian army whose troops were often ill-equipped and "not very motivated" because funds intended for the fight against Boko Haram were lost allegedly due to corruption.

The Washington-based Council for Foreign Relations recently estimated that more than 10,000 people had been killed in Nigeria over the past year and more than 1 million displaced because of Boko Haram's five-year insurgency.

ipj/sms (AP, Reuters, dpa)

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