Joseph Erunke – Abuja
THE Nigerian Army has maintained sealed lips hours after reports emerged that 11 captives in the den of Islamic State of West Africa Province, (ISWAP) were executed on Christmas Day.
Neither the Defence Headquarters (DHQ) nor the Nigerian Army could react to the development when Vanguard sought their reactions on Thursday.
The acting Director of Defence Information, Brig. Onyema Nwachukwu, while responding to Vanguard’s inquiry on the veracity or otherwise of the report, referred the matter to the Nigerian Army, saying it was the army’s place to react.
But several calls made to the known mobile phone line of the acting Director of Army Public Relations, Col. Sagir Musa, were not answered.
A follow-up text message sent to the number was yet to be responded to at the time of filing this report.
The ISWAP fighters were reported to have executed 11 captives in its den on Christmas Day.
Ahmad Salkida, a conflict journalist renowned for his monitoring of terrorist activities in Nigeria’s northeast, had said the captives were executed on Christmas Day.
According to Salkida, who disclosed this in his website @ salkida.com, said ISWAP claimed the captives were executed “as a revenge for the killings of our leaders, including Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and Abul-Hasan Al-Muhajir in Iraq and Syria.”
“But conflict journalists and researchers, including Jacob Zenn, said ‘it is possible ISIS ordered ISWAP to kill them’ as it had intervened in other hostage situations,” he said.
He, however, debunked claims by the terror group that all the victims are Christians.
“Not all 11 of the victims are Christians as claimed by the group, there were three Muslims and 10 Christians that appeared in the captured video on the 17th December,” Salkida said in a post on his website.
“The terrorist group claimed that they spared the lives of two persons that appeared in the earlier video, but did not give their names.
“However, a careful assessment of the video revealed that Suwaiba Kashimu from Nasarawa state, and one other male, were apparently not amongst those killed on Christmas,” Salkida wrote.
“The decision to execute the captives was rather swift, abrupt and shocking. ISWAP had reportedly opened a window of negotiations ostensibly to exchange the freedom of the captives with those of its members in government custody but the Nigerian government failed to take the offer.”
The killing comes few hours after Boko Haram jihadists killed seven people on Christmas Eve in a raid on a Christian village near the town of Chibok in Borno State.
Dozens of fighters driving trucks and motorcycles stormed into Kwarangulum late Tuesday, shot fleeing residents and burnt homes after looting food supplies.
Boko Haram and its IS-affiliated Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) faction have recently stepped up attacks on military and civilian targets.