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Ceasefire Questioned as Reports Surface Boko Haram Has Abducted More Girls

Accounts from local residents say the new abductions took place on Friday in the northeastern Nigerian state of Adamawa.
October 23, 2014, 8:07pm
Photo by AP/Olamikan Gbemiga

Less than a week after the Nigerian military announced it was close to reaching a deal with Boko Haram to secure the release of the more than 200 school girls missing since April, reports are indicating that dozens more girls may have been abducted in an area under attack by the militants since Friday's announcement.

Accounts from local residents say the new abductions took place on Friday in the northeastern Nigerian state of Adamawa, the BBC reported. The kidnappings reportedly occurred hours after Nigeria's top military official said the government had reached a ceasefire agreement with the militant group entrenched in the country.

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Nigeria has denied Boko Haram was behind the recent attacks. Government spokesman Mike Omeri told Reuters that, "the Boko Haram people have also said that some attacks are not undertaken by them."

Militant attacks cast doubts on Nigeria's alleged truce with Boko Haram. Read more here.

Adding to skepticism surrounding the ceasefire announcement, on Friday and Saturday insurgents reportedly attacked villages near the towns of Madagali and Michika, which in recent weeks have fallen under Boko Haram's control. According to the BBC, residents said the insurgents rounded the girls up during the village attacks.

Experts say these recent events indicate little has changed since the government reported the ceasefire agreement, further casting doubt on the validity of the deal in general. Andrew Noakes, CEO of Frontier Intelligence and coordinator of the Nigeria Security Network, told VICE News there continues to be severe insecurity in the northeast as Boko Haram maintains control over territory it has seized in recent months.

"The continued attacks and abductions cast significant doubt on the credibility of the negotiations that are reported to have taken place," he said, adding that these events are not the only reasons to doubt the ceasefire. Noakes explained that exactly who is involved with Boko Haram in negotiations is unclear, and that the identity of the representative for Boko Haram that is dealing with the government has been questioned.

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Nigeria officials declare ceasefire agreement with Boko Haram. Read more here.

Regarding the government's statements about Boko Haram's involvement, Noakes said there is reason to believe the insurgent group is made up of different factions, thus complicating the peace efforts.

"Ceasefires in general are an inherently messy business, with poor communication, differing motives, and factionalism all often playing a role in preventing uniform observance," Noakes said. "That said, it is hard to believe that recent attacks — given their intensity, frequency, and locations — have not been orchestrated by Boko Haram's senior leadership."

According to Noakes, Boko Haram's has little reason to make peace with the government now, but does appear to have enough central leadership to bring its factions into line and come to an agreement. If officials want to reach a deal with the militant group, however, Noakes said they will have to put forward a good offer, including concessions like immunity, jobs, and political influence.

"[Boko Haram] is in the ascendancy, seizing territory and carrying out frequent attacks," Noakes said. "To make them come around the table, the military is probably going to have to start turning things around on the ground."

Follow Kayla Ruble on Twitter: @RubleKB