8 Jan 2015

Hundreds feared killed by Boko Haram in Nigeria

Nigerian Islamist militant group Boko Haram group has killed at least 100 civilians in the town of Baga, in northern Nigeria. Some reports suggest the death toll could be as high as 2,000.

Militants were reported to have attacked and burned down the entire town yesterday, after having overpowered government troops on a base on Saturday.

District head Abba Hassan, speaking to Reuters, put the death toll at more than 100, with witnesses saying dozens may have been killed on Tuesday and Wednesday in attacks on the civilian population when insurgents began to burn buildings and shoot indiscriminately.

According to official Musa Alhaji Bukar, speaking to the BBC, the assault on Baga may have left up to 2,000 people dead.

Having fled to the Borno state capital Maiduguri, Mohamed Bukar told Reuters that he had escaped with his family by car after seeing militants killing people: “I saw bodies in the street. Children and women, some were crying for help.”

Amhed Khalifa, a senator for Borno state where Baga is situated, told NBC News that “10-to-20” other communities in the country’s northeast had been razed over the past five days of violence and confirmed that more than 2,000 remain unaccounted for.

Soldiers withdrawn

There were reports in Nigeria’s media yesterday that the soldiers from Niger and Chad had withdrawn their troops from a Multinational Joint Taskforce based at the military base outside the town following the attack.

In 2013 half of the town of Baga was burned by Boko Haram militants, with almost 200 people killed.

2,000 people were killed by the militant group in total in the whole of last year.

Unable to bury their dead

Senior government official Mr Bukar, in the Baga area, told the BBC that fleeing residents informed him the population in the town was now “virtually non-existent” and that those who had fled had been unable to bury their dead.

It will prove difficult to establish how many people have truly died, as much of the town of 10,000 disappeared into the countryside when it was attacked in 2013.

A local lawmaker Maina Maaji Lawan told the BBC that militants were under control of 70 per cent of the state of Borno.

Cameroon threat

Yesterday, a man claiming to be the leader of the Boko Haram group issued a threat to increase its attack against Cameroon unless it embraces Islam.

The group is seeking to create an Islamic state in the border regions of northern Nigeria.

“I advise you to desist from following your constitution and democracy, which is unIslamic,” said a man in a video address in which he reads from a script.

The conflict with Boko Haram has left 13,000 dead and displaced 800,000 people.

The 200 Chibok schoolgirls kidnapped by the group in made headlines around the world, and are still missing.