More than 60 Nigerian girls and women abducted by Islamic extremists Boko Harem have managed to escape, officials have reported.
Chibok local government chairman Pogu Bitrus confirmed he had verified that around 60 women and girls had escaped on Thursday and Friday.
Bitrus said he had sent a representative to meet with some of the escapees and their families at the hospital in Lassa, a town in the neighboring Damboa local government area.
Vigilante leader Abbas Gava in Maiduguri, capital of Borno state, also confirmed that that vigilantes in the area told him 63 women and girls managed to get away on Friday while their captors were engaged in a major attack on a military barracks and police headquarters in Damboa town.
Small-scale kidnappings by Boko Haram extremists had been going on for months when they drew international condemnation for the abductions of more than 200 schoolgirls from a school in Chibok town of Borno state on April 15. It is thought that 219 of those girls still are missing.
The government and military failure to rescue them has attracted criticism at home and abroad.
Boko Haram is demanding the release of detained fighters in exchange for the girls. Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan reportedly has refused to consider a prisoner swap.
Amid the stalemate, Bitrus said that attacks have increased around Chibok and that Boko Haram has taken over some villages in the area and is threatening to take over others.
The Kibaku Area Development Association, a local residents’ association, reported that 19 villages have been attacked since the April 15 abductions, with more than 229 people killed and about 100 seriously wounded.
In 90 percent of cases in the report there had been advance warning of the attacks - as happened in the Chibok kidnappings - yet according to the association, the military had taken no action.
A statement by the association stated that the military were unwilling to do more, and urged the UN to intervene, it read:
“Security and defence is mainly provided by local vigilantes (who are ill-equipped) and the police while the soldiers in Chibok sit by and watch villagers being helplessly massacred in their homes, farms and in places of worship,”
“The inability or unwillingness of the federal government to provide adequate security to Chibok (Kibaku) nation following the abduction of the girls leaves us with no option than to call on the United Nations to use its apparatus to come to our aid and protect us from the imminent annihilation as a people,”