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Police rescue 230 women, children kidnapped by Boko Haram

THE police said yesterday they had rescued 230 women and children kidnapped by members of Boko Haram from several northern states and taken to Maiduguri. Already, 200 or so members of the group and other victims of terror they unleashed in Maiduguri are to be given mass burial, according to the State police commissioner, Christopher Dega.

One of the rescued people, Maimunatu Shuraim, 15, told AFP that the sect members herded them into waiting buses telling them they would learn “pure Islamic theology” in Maiduguri. The group is opposed to western-style education which it says is corrupting young people.

In Maiduguri, scene of the worst of this week’s violence, an official of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Halima Bulama, expressed concern about the risk of disease from the decaying corpses. “We are really worried about a possible outbreak of diseases like cholera due to the presence of decomposing corpses on the streets of Maiduguri which is constituting a serious health risk”.

Her colleague, Ibrahim Aliyu, said: “the task of picking the decomposing bodies has started in earnest and it is going on well.” He did not say how many bodies had been picked up so far. Yesterday morning, authorities searched cars and questioned passers-by in the city, where an AFP reporter saw more than 30 decomposing bodies in three different districts. Government spokesman Usman Chiroma said: “The government is making efforts to evacuate the dead bodies from the streets of Maiduguri.

We have mobilised men and equipment for this job. However, it is an enormous task given the paucity of our human resources.” Meanwhile, the 200 or so members of the Islamic fundamentalist group – Boko Haram – and victims of the terror they unleashed in Maiduguri last week are to be given a mass burial, the Borno State police commissioner, Dega has said.

Although, commercial activities resumed yesterday after five days of fierce fighting between police/soldiers and the sect, security agents are on a house to house search for fleeing members of Boko Haram. Thirty-eight suspected members were arrested in Abuja weekend while on their way to Lagos.

Residents ventured onto the streets of Maiduguri, yesterday, after the authorities cleared the bodies of hundreds of victims of the clashes. State government and Health Ministry officials finished collecting corpses, some of them swollen after lying in the streets for days, onto open trucks overnight and the security forces withdrew road blocks around the city.

“People are outside starting to go about their normal business. The bodies that were littered all over were finally cleared last night,” Aliiyu Maikano, northeastern disaster management officer for the Nigerian Red Cross, told Reuters.

At least 300 have been killed in parts of the North during almost a week of rioting by followers of Boko Haram, a militant sect which wants a wider adoption of sharia (Islamic law). The authorities are hoping the killing of sect leader Mohammed Yusuf, 39, who was shot dead while in police detention in Maiduguri Thursday, will bring an end to violence.

“I urge everyone to resume their normal lives now that the unfortunate Boko Haram uprising has been crushed,” said Governor Ali Modu Sheriff of Borno State. “The security agencies shall continue the house to house searches for members of the sect in order to bring them to justice and I urge you all to cooperate with them,” he told state radio.


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