By Aminu Abubakar and Greg Botelho, CNN

(CNN)—The Islamist militant group Boko Haram kidnapped 40 boys and young men -- ages 10 to 23 -- from a village in the northeastern Nigerian state of Borno, some of those fleeing said Saturday.

The terrorists arrived in the village of Malari carrying assault rifles and then preached to them about the group's extremist ideology before forcibly taking 40 hostages and driving toward the Sambisa forest on December 31, villagers who fled to Maiduguri said.

It took days for information on this mass abduction to emerge due to poor communications stemming from the destruction of cell phone towers in previous Boko Haram attacks.This act, while horrific, is hardly unprecedented. Boko Haram has been blamed for numerous attacks, from assassinations of officials to bombings of crowded markets, in recent years as part of its quest to impose a strict version of Sharia law across Nigeria.

Mass kidnappings have been part of that campaign, most notably the taking of more than 200 schoolgirls from Chibok in April. There was talk of a ceasefire deal that would pave the way for the girls' release, but Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau laughed it off, claiming that those abducted had converted to Islam and been married off.

 

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