Boko Haram fighters abducted 22 girls and women in two separate raids in north-east Nigeria, residents and vigilantes said.

In the first attack on Thursday, the insurgents raided the village of Pulka near the border with Cameroon where they kidnapped 18 girls.

“Boko Haram fighters from Mamman Nur camp arrived in pickup vans around 6am and seized 14 young girls aged 17 and below while residents fled into the bush,” a Pulka community leader told the Guardian UK.

“They picked four other girls who were fleeing the raid they came across in the bush outside the village,” said the community leader who asked not to be named for fear of reprisals.

Pulka is situated in a narrow strip along the Nigeria-Cameroon border in Gwoza Local Government Area which was once declared the centre of Islamic Caliphate by Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau.

According to the official, the attackers were loyal to the faction headed by Abu Musab Al-Barnawi, the son of Boko Haram founder Mohammed Yusuf. Barnawi was appointed last year by Isis to replace leader Abubakar Shekau, who had pledged allegiance to the jihadist group in 2015.

Another resident confirmed the raid and said the girls were likely to end up as brides for the fighters. “They didn’t harm anyone during the raid and they made no attempt to shoot people running away from the village,” said the resident.

Also on Thursday, the terrorist killed a herder and shot dead no fewer than 50 of his cow for failing to pay ‘tax’ in an ‘occupied territory’ in Northern part of Borno State.

Though Nigerian security forces have repeatedly claimed they have uprooted Boko Haram elements in all known towns and villages in the North-East, sources said the insurgents are still terrorizing locals in Northern Borno communities, along the shores of the Lake Chad, forcing them to pay “taxes for protection” in addition to other extortions.

The terrorists group, which claims to be fighting to establish an Islamic state, extorts monies from locals as ‘Jizya’ an Arabic word for protection levy paid by non-Muslims living in Islamic states.

Witnesses and local vigilantes said on Thursday, the Boko Haram fighters in a village near Baga, in Kukawa Local Government Area, trailed the fleeing herder to   Dumba, another village near the Lake Chad where they killed him.

The herder reportedly refused to pay the protection money and instead, put together his wives, children, large herd of cow and other belongings and set to flee.

Tukur Mahe, a local in the area said when the terrorists visited the field where the herder lived with his family for the usual collection of the tax, they found him missing.

“The Boko Haram tax collectors met an empty place because the man left at night, probably because he was tired of their extortion,” he said.

“Out of anger, they followed the footsteps of his herd and family members and finally tracked them to Dumba and slaughtered him and his cattle. They also abducted four women from his family, took away some foodstuff and the rest of the cattle,” he said.

Meanwhile, the spokesperson of the Nigerian Army, Brigadier General Sani Kuka Sheka Usman, has denied reports of the abduction, describing it as “false”.

“The attention of the Nigerian Army has been drawn to a news story circulating on Social Media and some mainstream media that suspected Boko Haram terrorists have allegedly attacked Pulka and abducted 22 women, attributing it to an unidentified Bulama as source.

“We wish state that the report is completely false and should be ignored. For the avoidance of doubt, Pulka and its environs is heavily fortified and there has not been any security breach in the area. Media houses are please requested to always cross check their facts before publishing or broadcasting,” he said

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