Boko Haram faction kills second captive aid worker in Nigeria

Attacks by competing factions of Boko Haram have further complicated the efforts to fight the insurgency almost 10 years after it began. PHOTO: AFP

ABUJA (NYTIMES) - The second of three aid workers kidnapped in Nigeria by Islamist militants has been executed, government officials said on Monday night (Oct 15).

A Nigerian government minister said that Ms Hauwa Liman, a 24-year-old midwife who worked for the International Committee of the Red Cross, was killed after failed attempts to secure her release. Her captors are believed to have demanded a ransom.

On Sunday, the Red Cross Committee released a videotaped statement pleading for the two remaining captives' rescue, and warning that there might be only hours left before the militants killed one of them.

The group cited a deadline given by the militants, who belong to a faction of Boko Haram called the Islamic State West African Province.

Ms Liman was one of three aid workers seized by the militants during an attack in March in Rann, a town where tens of thousands of internally displaced people are seeking shelter.

In September, Ms Saifura Khorsa, a 25-year-old Red Cross nurse, was the first of the aid workers to be executed by the group.

Ms Alice Loksha, a Unicef nurse, is the only member of the group still believed to be alive.

Ms Khorsa's killing was recorded and sent to the Red Cross, along with demands for a ransom sum.

The details of the demand have not been confirmed, and officials say they do not pay ransoms for kidnapped staff.

According to the Red Cross Committee, after Ms Saifura's death, the militants warned that another aid worker would be killed within a month if their demands were not met.

In its videotaped appeal on Sunday, as the deadline loomed, the group said: "Please show some mercy. Hauwa and Alice went to Rann to save lives and they deserve to live."

On Monday, the Nigerian Information Minister, Mr Lai Mohammed, confirmed the group's worst fears, reporting Ms Liman's death and saying the militants' actions were inhuman.

"We are deeply pained by this killing," he said.

Ms Leah Sharibu, a schoolgirl kidnapped along with more than 100 girls from the town of Dapchi, in the north-east, is also still being held by the group, eight months after the majority of the kidnapped girls were returned.

"We will keep the negotiations open and continue to work to free the innocent women who remain in the custody of their abductors," Mr Mohammed said.

Ms Liman's death came amid acute concerns among aid organisations about the safety of working in north-east Nigeria.

Attacks by competing factions of Boko Haram have further complicated the efforts to fight the insurgency almost 10 years after it began.

Ahead of February's elections, the government has been keen to frame the crisis in the north-east as waning.

In August the head of missions for Médecins Sans Frontiers, an aid group, said the humanitarian crisis was deteriorating.

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