Terrorists operating in Zamfara State, Northwest Nigeria, are now abducting boys and releasing them to serve as informants.
Anas, a resident of Anka Local Government Area of Zamfara State, told HumAngle how more boys are becoming targets for kidnapping – due to them being deemed as more useful than girls – and then released as informants.
Young boys are often targets of conflict-related abuses and acts of violence, including recruitment into terror or self-defence groups.
However, according to Anas, when some informants were apprehended by security forces or the vigilante groups, they were immediately identified as boys who had been abducted and released after a ransom was paid.
“Three days ago, a boy from Talata-Mafara was arrested importing guns from the Niger Republic, and then it was uncovered that he had once been abducted and his people paid a ransom for his freedom,” he said.
Talata-Mafara is one of the areas in Zamfara that has recorded continuous terrorist attacks by armed groups locally known as bandits in the region.
Anas stated that these informants tend to notify the terror groups about who in what location just got money and people travelling to which location. “Some of these boys can only get access to these groups because they were once abducted.”
In the past, terrorists have requested certain sums of money, however, Anas noted that they now request bags of rice, food items, fuel for their vehicles, and an agreement with abductees to stay in touch.
Killing men and boys
Locals report that terrorists in Nigeria’s Northwest region are changing their tactics while they launch attacks. Unlike when they attacked in the past and raped women, terrorists now kill men and boys they suspect are members of vigilante groups.
Males were the primary targets of this attack because the armed groups intended to terminate the local vigilance committees in the area as a form of revenge, Anka Yusuf, a conflict analyst versed in the operations of terrorists in the region, told HumAngle.
In the past, terrorists and vigilante groups have clashed a number of times in which the terror groups lost.
Yusuf said some of the communities razed were fortified by vigilantes which had made it difficult for the armed groups to carry out attacks.
This, he said, informed the recent attacks by the terrorists that left over 200 people dead, many of whom were men and boys.
Terror groups in what appeared like reprisals, attacked Rafin Gero, Kewaye, Kurfar Danya, and six other communities in Anka and Bukuyyum LGA of Zamfara State.
The terror groups who operated in the villages for three days (Jan. 4 to Jan. 6) raided the communities on motorcycles, killing over 200 locals along with burning their properties.
Faru Hamisu, a resident of the Nassarawa community in Bukkuyum LGA stated that these attacks were carried out by fleeing terrorists whose camps in the Shinkafi Local Government Area of the state had been destroyed by military interventions.
According to Hamisu, the terror groups comprised Bello Turji and Dogo Gide’s men who were seeking to resettle in Bukkuyum LGA.
Turji and Dogo Gide are leaders of notorious armed groups that are responsible for the killings and abductions of locals in many parts of Zamfara State.
“When the fleeing bandits reached Kurfar Danya, the local vigilantes intercepted them and killed some but not many,” Hamisu disclosed. “When Dogo Gide’s men met with Turji’s men at Kurfar Danya and saw what had happened they began to raze the villages.”
While the Zamfara State Government had put the casualty figure at 58, locals said about 200 people were killed and 154 of them were identified as members of a local vigilante group.
This was amplified recently when Suleiman Abubakar Gumi, a member of the Nigerian House of Representatives representing Gummi and Bukuyyum constituency of Zamfara, cried out that terrorists now kill more boys unlike before.
“They (the terror group) were looking for every male child to kill no matter how small. They will open and see if it’s a girl, they will leave, but if it’s a boy, they will bring him out and kill him,” Gumi spoke on the heels of the horrifying reprisal attacks that occurred in Anka and Bukkuyum.
The parliamentarian said that Bukuffa, a town in the Anka area, is well protected by local vigilantes but the community got infiltrated. “They entered and they were looking for every male child to kill.”
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