Nigeria: Aisha's Story of Abduction

14 April 2015

The Amnesty International report on atrocities committed by Boko Haram included the following account from a 19-year old girl:

Aisha Yusuf (not real name), a 19-year-old woman who was abducted in September 2014, spent four months in a Boko Haram camp in Gullak, Madagali LGA in Adamawa state. She was abducted, when she visited a friend's wedding. Her sister, the bride and her sister were abducted as well.

She estimated that there were 500 fighters in the camp and frequently new members arrived from Sambisa and Gwoza. One week after they arrived in the camp, the bride and her sister were married off to Boko Haram fighters. They were taken away and at the time of the interview in April 2015, Aisha did not know their whereabouts.

"They used to train girls how to shoot guns. I was among the girls trained to shoot. I was also trained how to use bombs and how to attack a village. They'll dress us and demonstrate to us how to explode a bomb. This training went on for 3 weeks after we arrived. Then they started sending some of us to operations. I went on one operation to my own village."

There were approximately 100 other abducted girls and women in Gullak, all abducted from surrounding villages, including Michika, Kankere, Baza, Ndutse, Kuzum, Gullak and Madagali.

In October, the commander of the camp brought approximately 200 female fighters, according to Aisha abducted women and girls like herself, to train them.

"The commander said we should learn from them. Learn about killing and slaughtering. They told me how they attacked towns and villages, how they kill other people, how they slaughter infidels. They described how they attacked Gwoza and Michika. They told us they had killed a lot of people, they had abducted young boys and other girls. The commander wanted them to encourage us to fight and kill."

Aisha said the group of female fighters went on operations from Gullak camp and some were transferred to another base while others stayed in Gullak. Aisha said she went on many operations.

"From the base, we'll get into a car and then the Boko Haram will shoot anyone they see on their way. They'll kill people, we'll stay briefly before we return. The commanders will advise us to be careful. We shouldn't be afraid of the soldiers. We should confront. On the way, nothing will happen. We'll be singing and shooting in the air. We [the women and girls] were often placed in the middle or at the back.

"We never experienced casualties, because most times we don't even get resistance from the soldiers. During the operations, I shot guns, I didn't kill anyone, but I burnt some houses. I helped in packing people's properties into the car. The Boko Haram fighters will congratulate us and we will also celebrate. They will cook lots of food and we'll be happy."

"I saw more than 50 people killed while I was there. 40 men and 10 women. Some of them refused to convert. Some refused to learn how to kill others. They were buried in a mass grave in the bush. They'll just pack the dead bodies and dump them in a big hole, but not deep enough. I didn't see the hole, but we used to get the smell from the dead bodies when they start getting rotten...My sister was killed in the camp. I was briefly taken away before they shot her. And then they brought me to see her dead body."

Aisha escaped in January 2015, in the evening. A woman who cooked for the fighters helped her.

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