At least 200 people, mostly women and children, abducted by extremists in northeastern Nigeria

ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) — Islamic extremists have kidnapped at least 200 people looking for firewood, mostly women and children displaced by violence in northeastern Nigeria, the United Nations office in the country said.

The locals blamed the attack Islamic extremist rebels who launched an uprising in Borno in 2009 to establish their radical interpretation of Islamic law in the region. Many of those fleeing the deadly violence are in displacement camps with limited helpoften risking their lives to go to areas where security is inadequate in search of food and firewood.

The victims of the latest attack had left several displaced persons camps in Gamboru Ngala council area of ​​Borno state when they were ambushed and taken hostage near the border with Chad, the UN said late on Wednesday. The incident took place several days ago, but details are only now emerging due to limited access to information in the area.

“The exact number of people kidnapped remains unknown but is estimated at more than 200 people,” Mohamed Fall, the UN humanitarian coordinator for Nigeria, said in a statement, adding that some of the victims were later released.

The latest attack is a “stark reminder” that women and girls bear the brunt of the conflict, Fall said, calling for the immediate release of the victims. “This act of violence against already traumatized civilians insults our common humanity,” he said.

At least 35,000 people have been killed and more than 2 million displaced as a result of violence by the militant Boko Haram group and a breakaway faction backed by Islamic State.

The Nigerian security forces fighting the insurgents are overstretched as they too battle dozens of armed groups attacking remote communities in other parts of the northern region. The crises have increased pressure on Nigerian President Bola Tinubu, who was elected last year after pledging to end the violence.

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