Boko Haram militants have kidnapped more than 400 women and children from the northern Nigerian town Damasak, according to its residents. The town had been freed by troops from Niger and Chaad after heavy fighting earlier this month. One eyewitness, Souleymane Ali, told Reuters that they took 506 young women and children, including his wife and three of his daughters, and killed about 50 of them before leaving town. While this figure has not been confirmed, Boko Haram is known to conduct mass kidnappings, most notoriously with the kidnapping of nearly 300 Chibok schoolgirls last year, which caused international outrage and prompted the #BringBackOurGirls campaign. The militant group’s efforts to form its own Islamic caliphate in Nigeria has brought a sharp increase in violence in the country, but according to officials there, military troops have successfully freed 17 of the 20 government areas that were occupied at the beginning of this year.
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