Boko Haram militants have kidnapped more than 400 women and children from the northern Nigerian town of Damasak that was freed this month by troops from Niger and Chad, Reuters quoted residents as saying on Tuesday.
There was no immediate official confirmation of the figure, but the Islamist group has previously carried out mass kidnappings. Boko Haram in April 2014 adopted over 200 schoolgirls in Chibok.
“They (insurgents) took 506 young women and children (in Damasak). They killed about 50 of them before leaving. We don’t know if they killed others after leaving, but they took the rest with them,” a trader called Souleymane Ali told Reuters in the town.
Troops of the African joint force last week found the bodies of at least 70 people in an apparent execution site under a bridge leading out of Damasak, where the streets remained strewn with debris and burnt-out cars after the fighting.
Ali said his wife and three of his daughters were among those seized.
“Two of them were supposed to get married this year. (Boko Haram) said ‘They are slaves so we’re taking them because they belong to us,’” he said.
Mohamed Ousmane, another trader, said the militants took his two wives and three of their children.
A 40-year-old resident who gave her name as Fana said fighters had rounded up captives in the main mosque before taking them out of town. She said she saved her two children by hiding them in her house.