London: Women and girls abducted by Islamic militant group Boko Haram in Nigeria were used in combat operations, forced to lure men into ambush and to marry their captors, according to a report released on Monday.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) interviewed former hostages of the militants, who described the physical and psychological abuse they suffered, including beatings and rape.
The report follows renewed attacks and abductions by suspected Boko Haram insurgents despite government reports that it had reached a ceasefire with the rebels in order to secure the release of more than 200 schoolgirls abducted in April.
The rights group spoke to 46 victims and witnesses of Boko Haram abductions, including some girls who escaped the kidnapping from Chibok secondary school in northeastern Nigeria.
One of the victims told HRW how she was forced to lie in the grass and hold bullets while the militants fought.
"When security forces arrived at the scene and began to shoot at us, I fell down in fright. The insurgents dragged me along on the ground as they fled back to camp," the 19-year-old said.
In another operation, she was told to approach a group of five men and lure them to where the Boko Haram militants were hiding.
They ambushed the men, tied them up and slit the throats of four of them, before handing the knife to the woman and ordering her to kill the fifth man, the report said.
"I was shaking with horror and couldn`t do it. The camp leader`s wife took the knife and killed him," she told HRW.
Boko Haram rebels have seized women and girls in many of their attacks. The victims HRW spoke to had been held from between two days to three months -- abducted from their villages while working on farms, fetching water or attending school.
Many of the abductees described how they were assaulted, raped, and forced into marriage to the militants after being made to convert to Islam.
One woman said Boko Haram combatants placed a noose around her neck and threatened her with decapitation when she refused to renounce her religion.
Another victim, aged 15, said she complained that she was too young to marry one of the militants but a Boko Haram commander dismissed her protests, saying his five-year-old daughter had married the previous year.
The report said funds had been provided for the Chibok girls but other victims had not received any support.
"The Nigerian government and its allies need to step up their efforts to put an end to these brutal abductions and provide for the medical, psychological, and social needs of the women and girls who have managed to escape," Daniel Bekele, Africa director at HRW, said in a statement.
Boko Haram, whose name translates roughly as "Western education is sinful", has killed thousands in its battle to carve an Islamic state out of religiously mixed Nigeria.