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26 Civilians Kidnapped By ‘Terrorists Dressed as Women’ in Nigeria’s Katsina State

Bianca Bridger
Bianca Bridger
Bianca holds a degree in Political Science from the University of Otago, New Zealand. As the Africa Desk Chief for Atlas, her expertise spans conflict, politics, and history. She is also the Editor for The ModernInsurgent and has interests in yoga and meditation.

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At least 26 civilians were kidnapped by ‘terrorists dressed as women’ from Katsina State’s Runka Community on Saturday, local press has reported.

The armed perpetrators donned traditional abayas (hijabs) and entered the community at approximately 10:30 p.m. local time, taking 26 residents, with four believed to have escaped, making the total abductee count 22.

The same evening, in neighbouring Kaduna state, two journalists and their families, including two children aged 10 and 8 were kidnapped by unknown assailants. No ransom has yet been demanded.

What You Need to Know

Speaking on the Katsina State kidnapping, Deputy Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Abduljalal Haruna Runka, touched on the lack of intelligence in the lead-up to the attack.

“They just appeared in the middle of the night. We are going back to the drawing board to analyze the situation. To know why we couldn’t get the information.”

Runka community lies adjacent to Rugu forest, which is believed to be an insurgent hideout. However, locals have claimed the attack was coordinated from within, with one local claiming “the informants include even those in our community. One of the terrorists was even heard exchanging pleasantries with an informant, telling him ‘today we’ve come to your hometown.'”

According to local press, police presence in the area was minimal in the lead-up to the attack, with an armored vehicle sent to patrol the area in the aftermath.

Currently, the identities of the perpetrators and which, if any, armed groups they belong to remains unknown.

Rising insecurity in Nigeria has prompted former Governor of Ondo State, Bode George, in an interview today with Channels Television to call for the establishment of a state police service.

Despite President Tinubu calling for the establishment of such a force in February, just 16 of the country’s 36 Governors returned reports to the National Economic Council (NEC) to allow for the force to go ahead.

So, What Now?

The use of traditional female dress to mask the perpetrators entry into the village is of particular importance. As previously reported, militant groups in the country such as Boko Haram have made increasing use of female attackers due to their ability to draw less attention in public areas. While the Katsina attack was likely perpetrated by males in female dress, the overarching notion that women draw less suspicion, as seen through the July 2nd female suicide bomber attacks in Borno state, must be noted.

The uneven approach to a state police force by the nation’s Governors is also a likely contributor to increased kidnapping attacks, as Nigeria’s current forces, even with the aid of the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF), struggle to adequately patrol their areas of operation. This issue has given rise to local vigilante groups, which oftentimes clash with insurgents. However, reports have surfaced of vigilante group members partaking in ‘tit-for-tat’ killings in recent months.

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