Nigeria says no policewoman in Boko Haram custody
No policewoman has been abducted by Boko Haram militants, a Nigerian police spokesman has said, denying the recent claims made by the militant group.
"For avoidance of doubts, and to put records straight, there are no policewomen under Boko Haram terrorists' captivity as claimed by the sect leader," Isuku Victor, police spokesman in northeastern Borno state, said in a statement late Wednesday.
The denial came after Boko Haram factional chief Abubakar Shekau released a 17-minute video on Tuesday claiming that some policewomen had been abducted by his men in northeastern area of Damboa on June 20 and were now slaves to the group.
The police spokesman said a convoy of police personnel traveling to bury one of their colleagues was ambushed by militants in Borno state, leading to the death of at least two police officers and seizing of one of the vehicles.
He admitted, however, that at least two officers were still missing following the militants' ambush.
"Occupants [of the convoy] comprised personnel, relations and burial party for late Rahila Antikirya. Personnel missing are Fatsuma Sale and Abubakar Haruna. There is no evidence in the video clip indicating that they are in the captivity of the sect," he said.
"Other occupants of the lorry are either relations or sympathizers of the deceased, and were all reported missing in the earlier press briefing. They took advantage of the space in the lorry conveying personal effects of the deceased police woman and joined the burial party," he added.
In the video, Shekau said: "I want to tell you that we were the ones who attacked the convoy...we were the ones that abducted the female police officers; in fact, they are senior female police officers."
"What we did is nothing when compared to our women, children, and friends that have been wiped out or arrested for many years by the Nigerian government. We only abducted them to serve as slaves to us," according to the top militant who had repeatedly been reported killed by the local army.
Shekau did not say the exact number of the policewomen he claimed were abducted by his men.
Despite government's claim to have crushed the group, Boko Haram has resumed occasional physical attacks on security positions in the past weeks -- along with suicide attacks that continue to target civilians in Borno state.