Militants believed to be from the Nigerian extremist group Boko Haram have kidnapped 20 women from a settlement near the town of Chibok where more than 200 schoolgirls were abducted in April, it has been reported.
Gunmen reportedly arrived at the nomadic Garkin Fulani settlement in a number of vans last week, and forced the women into the vehicles at gunpoint.
The women were then driven away, witnesses said, to an unknown location in the remote Borno state, along with three young men who had tried to stop the kidnapping.
The Nigerian army has been accused of being largely ineffective in combating Boko Haram in the Borno region, forcing local people to set up vigilante groups to protect themselves.
Alhaji Tar, a member of one of these groups, said eye-witnesses had told them about the attack but that it was too late for anyone to intervene.
“We tried to go after them when the news got to us about three hours later, but the vehicles we have could not go far, and the report came to us a little bit late,” he said.
A spokesperson for the army said that since that incident, which occurred at around midday on Thursday, state troops had prevented Boko Haram raids on villages across Borno and the neighbouring state of Adamawa.
In pictures: Nigeria kidnapped schoolgirls
In pictures: Nigeria kidnapped schoolgirls
A total of 276 girls were abducted from the northeastern town of Chibok, in Borno state, which has a sizeable Christian community. Some 223 are still missing
One of the kidnapped girls looks into a camera
One of the missing girls talking to the camera
The missing Nigerian schoolgirls, wearing the full-length hijab and praying in an undisclosed rural location. Boko Haram alleging they had converted them to Islam
Girls wearing the full-length hijab holding a flag reading "There is no god, but Allah" and "Mohammed is Allah's prophet"
A man claiming to be the leader of Nigerian Islamist extremist group Boko Haram Abubakar Shekau
Abubakar Shekau speaks on the video
Girls, wearing the full-length hijab and praying are filmed by an unidentified man (R) in an undisclosed rural location
People carry signs as they attend a protest demanding the release of abducted secondary school girls in the remote village of Chibok in Lagos
A protester demonstrates against the kidnapping of school girls in Nigeria, outside the Nigerian Embassy in London
Chief International Correspondent Christiane Amanpour and Prime Minister David Cameron appearing on the BBC1 current affairs programme
People participate in a "Bring Back Our Girls" campaign demonstration and candlelight vigil in Los Angeles
Girls holding heart shaped banners in a "Bring Back Our Girls" campaign demonstration and candlelight vigil in Los Angeles
14/19 South Africa
South Africans protest in solidarity against the abduction of hundreds of schoolgirls in Nigeria by the Muslim extremist group Boko Haram and what protesters said was the failure of the Nigerian government and international community to rescue them, during a march to the Nigerian Consulate in Johannesburg
Karilyn Coates (10) joins others in a candlelight vigil for the more than 300 girls abducted by Boko Haram in Nigeria, at All Souls Unitarian Church in Colorado Springs
Mothers of the missing Chibok school girls abducted by Boko Haram Islamists gather to receive informations from officials. Nigeria's president said that Boko Haram's mass abduction of more than 200 schoolgirls would mark a turning point in the battle against the Islamists, as world powers joined the search to rescue the hostages
Former Nigerian Education Minister and Vice-President of the World Bank's Africa division (3rd L) Obiageli Ezekwesilieze speaks as she leads a march of Nigeria women and mothers of the kidnapped girls of Chibok, calling for their freedom in Abuja
18/19 Bring Back Our Girls
Kelly Hoppen tweeted: 'Please make sure you do this, we must stand together and not forget them'
19/19 Bring Back Our Girls
E.L. Rock Star tweeted: 'Join The Movement'
Defence spokesperson Chris Oluklade said soldiers had killed more than 50 militants who were on their way to conduct raids on civilians.
Boko Haram came to wider international attention when they abducted hundreds of schoolgirls from the Chibok Government Girls School on 15 April, prompting the #BringBackOurGirls campaign.
The militant group, which says it is against “Western education” and wants to establish an Islamic state in Nigeria, has been taking over villages in the north east and killed more than 3,300 people so far this year, according to a new report from the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre and the Norwegian Refugee Council.
On Thursday the British Foreign Secretary, William Hague, is due to host delegations from more than 100 countries in London for a ministerial meeting about the state of northern Nigeria's security, as a follow-up to last month's summit in Paris about tackling Boko Haram.