Boko Haram kills abducted aid worker in Borno

Boko Haram aligned to the so-called Islamic State group have executed one of six aid workers abducted in July in northeast Nigeria, charity group Action Against Hunger said Wednesday.

“The armed group holding captive an employee of Action Against Hunger (ACF), two drivers and three health ministry personnel, have executed a hostage,” the Paris-based organisation said in a statement.

“Action Against Hunger condemns in the strongest terms this assassination and urgently calls for the release of the hostages,” it said, giving no more details on the identity of the victim.

The charity said it was “extremely concerned and is fully mobilised to ensure that the remaining hostages can be quickly and safely reunited with their families”.

The six Nigerian aid workers — one woman and five men — were seized by jihadists affiliated to the Islamic State group during an ambush on their convoy close to the border with Niger on July 18.

The Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) group released a video following the abduction of the female ACF staff member pleading for the release of the hostages with her five male colleagues behind her.

The kidnapping was the latest to target aid workers in the conflict-hit region after the abduction and killing of two female staff for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) last year.

ISWAP is a splinter faction of jihadist group Boko Haram that swore allegiance in 2016 to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

It has repeatedly attacked military bases and targeted aid workers in northeast Nigeria.

The announcement of the latest execution comes after the army last week shut down ACF offices in northeast Nigeria, accusing the organisation of supplying “food and drugs” to the jihadists.

A second aid group, Mercy Corps, said Wednesday that it was suspending its operations in the region after the military closed its offices.

“We have not yet received an official reason from the Nigerian authorities for the closure and we are seeking to work with them to resolve this as soon as possible,” Mercy Corps said in a statement.

“Mercy Corps believes in the work we have done in northeast Nigeria, and we hope to quickly resume our programs that bring much-needed relief to the people of Nigeria.”

An AFP reporter witnessed soldiers camped at the entrance to the Mercy Corps’ office in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State.

The army’s crackdown on the international organisations is the latest flashpoint in the tense relations between aid groups and the military.

The army have accused humanitarian organisations of working with jihadists before.

The decade-long insurgency has killed 35,000 people and displaced about two million from their homes in northeast Nigeria.

Boko Haram fighters have abducted huge numbers of women and children across the region.

The group drew worldwide attention with the kidnapping of 276 girls from a school in Chibok in 2014.

ICRC workers Hauwa Liman and Saifura Khorsa were murdered by ISWAP last year and a woman working for the UN children’s agency UNICEF is also still being held by the group.

The jihadists are also holding 16-year-old Leah Sharibu, the last remaining captive of over 100 schoolgirls kidnapped by jihadists in Dapchi Town, Yobe State, last February.

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