SECURITY operatives in the North were said to have been inundated with reports that armed bandits across the northern states of Zamfara, Sokoto and Kaduna have turned their searchlights on young girls, middle-aged women and housewives.
Reports made available to different agencies working in the states indicated that no fewer than 200 women had been abducted in the three states, with Zamfara accounting for more victims.
It was gathered that insurgents and bandits operating around the Birnin Gwari , Shamshalle and Walo forests in Birni Magaji and Maradun local government areas of Zamfara State, which spread to states of Kaduna and Sokoto, had been taking their victims to the forest as sex slaves, as well as using them as cooks.
Sources close to the Joint Task Force (JTF) in the states confirmed that the government of Zamfara State attempted to clear the Birnin Gwari forest recently, when it got reports of activities of the bandits and some insurgents.
Security sources indicated that the bandits resorted to kidnapping women and young housewives as a result of the heat turned on them across the North in recent times.
It was gathered that because of the increasing danger they had been facing within the towns and villages, the bandits had resolved to operate from the vast forests, though they faced sex starvation and lack of food.
They were said to have resolved to kidnapping young women and girls to satisfy both needs.
It was learnt that the bandits used to target villagers and cattle sellers around Birnin Gwari but that when the villagers stopped carrying cash around, they changed strategy and started kidnapping.
“They started kidnapping girls and young housewives and even old women that they considered attractive enough. Once they kidnap them, the victims are taken to the forests where they are turned to sex slaves and also made to cook for them. Many of the kidnapped women have not been seen for some time,” a source in the know said.
It was gathered that many of the young women had abandoned villages, especially in Zamfara and Kaduna, as many of them were said to have been forced to live with their relations at the council headquarters and cities.
Meanwhile, 20 people were reported to have been killed on Sunday, while 10 others were injured when gunmen suspected to be members of the Boko Haram insurgents launched an attack on Logomani village, in Dikwa Local Government Area of Borno State, between the hours of 6.00 a.m and 9.00 a.m
Nigerian Tribune gathered that soldiers had pursued the insurgents into the forest around Ngomboru Ngala, but there was no report as to whether they were successful in the operation.
Bukar Alhaji Gana, a resident in the village, told the Nigerian Tribune that about a week before the attack, there was rumour that some members of the Boko Haram group were seen in the area, heading towards Marte area.
“We were told that some of the Boko Haram sect members came around and warned some people, but left almost immediately towards Marte,” Gana told newsmen.
It was learnt that the area attacked was a usual meeting point of truck drivers, where they met to relax in the evening.
Nigerian Tribune learnt that the attackers, dressed in military uniforms, also left with some women and collected money also from some of the truck drivers.
A passenger who escaped the attack told newsmen that the attackers shot three passengers and slaughtered 14 people before someone alerted them that soldiers were coming, forcing them to flee on motorcycles into the bush.
“When they stooped us, we thought they were soldiers. It was when they began to ask us to come out of the car that we realised they are Boko Haram insurgents.
“They were dressed in military uniform and killed about 20 before they fled when they were told soldiers are coming,” he said
As of the time of going to press, there was no report from the military authorities on the issue, as the acting spokesman of the Seven Division, Nigerian Army, Captain Aliyu Danja, could not be reached for comment.