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Nigeria says reports of latest Islamist kidnap 'unverified'

19 December 2014, 21:01

Lagos - Nigeria's military on Friday confirmed a deadly attack by Boko Haram in the northeast village of Gumsuri but said reports of a mass kidnapping needed to be verified.

"Troops are patrolling the general area of Gumsuri in search of terrorists," a statement from defence ministry spokesman Chris Olukolade said.

"Although it has been confirmed that some people were killed by the terrorists during the attack, the reported abductions as claimed by unidentified sources being quoted in some foreign media is yet to be verified from any credible sources in the community," he added.

Also read: UK condemns Borno attack, abductions

At least 32 people were killed in the attack that began late Sunday and at least 185 others, mostly women and children, were kidnapped, witnesses and local officials said.

The attack recalled the mass abductions in the nearby town of Chibok in April, when more than 200 girls were seized by the Islamists in a raid on a school.

Days after the Chibok abductions, Olukolade said all but eight of the girls had been rescued by troops, a claim he was forced to retract the next day.

Of the 276 girls seized from the school, 219 are still missing, despite government claims in October that a deal for their release had agreed with alleged Boko Haram negotiators.

"Troops have been ordered to sustain an aggressive patrol over the area and the surrounding communities in order to ensure that terrorists do not have any freedom of action in the area while the counter-terrorism campaign continues," the statement further said.

Details of the attack took four days to emerge because the mobile phone network in the area has completely collapsed and many of the roads are impassable due to Boko Haram's strength in the region.

Gumsuri falls in Borno state, the epicentre of Boko Haram's five-year uprising, which has killed more than 13,000 people.

The insurgents control large parts of the state, but the military has vowed to retake all lost territory.



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