Jihadists slaughter 14 women ‘witches’

A Boko Haram leader vents his ire on women in Gwoza town

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (AFP) — Boko Haram jihadists killed a group of women in Nigeria after accusing them of witchcraft following the death of a militant commander’s children in northeast Borno State, relatives, residents and a woman who escaped have told AFP.

Last week, around 40 women were held in a village near Gwoza town on the orders of jihadist commander Ali Guyile whose children suddenly died overnight, according to relatives and a woman who escaped.

In interviews conducted on Sunday and Monday, they said the commander had accused the women of causing the children’s deaths through witchcraft.

Guyile, a 35-year-old commander asked his men to arrest the women from homes known to practise witchcraft, said Talkwe Linbe, one of the accused women.

Linbe said she managed to escape and fled to the regional capital Maiduguri after the killing of 14 women on Thursday.

“He (Guyile) said he would investigate our involvement in the deaths of his children,” she said.

“On Thursday he ordered 14 among us to be slaughtered. I was lucky I was not among them.”

Her relationship to Boko Haram was not clear, but jihadists often force residents in territory under their influence into work or relationships.

The relatives and residents AFP interviewed did not specify how the women died but the term they used in Hausa usually refers to jihadists slitting victims’ throats.

Contacted by AFP, Nigeria’s military did not respond. But security sources said they were aware of the reports and were investigating, although they stressed the village was very remote.

A Borno State government official said they were checking.

On Saturday, the day Linbe arrived in Maiduguri, 12 more women were slaughtered accused of being witches, other relatives said.

“I received a call from Gwoza that my mother, two aunts and nine other women were slaughtered yesterday (Saturday) on the orders of Ali Guyile who accused them of being witches,” Abdullahi Gyya, who lives in Maiduguri, said.

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