As supporters around the world call for the return of more than 300 school girls that were abducted by extremist group Boko Haram in Nigeria, the organization is now being accused of kidnapping an additional 20 women.
According to the New York Post, the abduction took place in a nomadic settlement near the town of Chibok in the northwest region of the country. The area is near where the original abduction took place, as the 300 school girls were taken from Chibok Government Girls School. The kidnappers also reportedly took three men with them that attempted to intervene in the kidnapping.
The location of the missing women is unknown by those in Nigeria as well as the international community. They are likely being held in a remote area of the Borno State, where the Boko Haram’s control and influence is growing.
The organization, which is comprised of Islamic militants who are pushing to implement Sharia law nation-wide, is gaining traction with its increased amount of violent attacks. The group has been characterized in recent months by its often senseless killings of villagers and innocent citizens.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the 20 women that were recently abducted by Boko Haram gunmen come from the Fulani ethnic group, which are cattle herders by tradition. Boko Haram has also not yet claimed responsibility for the attack, although they are presumed responsible.
The safety of the Chibok school girls also remains uncertain, as the Nigerian military plans a rescue mission and negotiations with Boko Haram continue. Some of the girls have escaped from captivity, leaving an estimated 272 women in the hands of the group.
Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau cited the arrest of wives of Boko Haram fighters and members by the Nigerian government as his reason for carrying out the abductions in a video last month.
“As long as we do not see our women and children we will never release these women and children,” the leader said in the video. “And we are certain, by God’s grace, no one will live happily with his wife and children so long as ours are not allowed to live with us. And if you think you can rescue these women and children we captured, try facing us and see what happens.”
The United States has remained relatively quiet regarding its foreign policy situation with Nigeria, although First Lady Michelle Obama has voiced her support for the #BringBackOurGirls campaign.