Suspected Boko Haram gunmen shot dead at least 42 people
in two separate attacks in northeast Nigeria, with no let-up in
sight to the Islamist group’s targeting of civilians. The
attacks in the remote villages of Debiro Hawul and Debiro
Biu in Borno state on Monday and Tuesday came before at
least 10 people were killed in a suicide attack in
neighbouring Yobe.
Boko Haram, which has been fighting to establish a hardline
Islamic state in northeast Nigeria since 2009, has intensified
its campaign of violence in the last month. In all, nearly 250
people have been killed in Nigeria since Muhammadu Buhari
became president on May 29 vowing to crush the militant
uprising that has claimed at least 15,000 lives.
The latest attacks saw some 30 militant fighters storm Debiro
Biu on Monday and Debiro Hawul the following day, with
reports taking time to emerge because of the villages’ remote
location. “We received reports of attacks by suspected Boko
Haram gunmen on the two villages, in which 42 deaths were
recorded,” one police officer told AFP from the town of Biu.
Umaru Markus, who fled Debiro Hawul, said the attacks were
carried out by some 30 Islamists in a convoy of pick-up
trucks and motorcycles. The rebels shot dead their victims
after looting homes and shops and setting fire to buildings, he
added.“They came around 12:30 am and opened fire on the
village, which sent people scampering into the bush to escape
the attack,”he said.
“The gunmen slaughtered 22 people who were not fast
enough in fleeing and went about looting homes, grains silos
and drug stores.” The attack on Debiro Biu left 20 people
dead, he said. “It never occurred to us we would be the next
target,”he added.
BOKO HARAM VICTIMS—A relation of one of the officers
and soldiers killed in Borno, Yobe states and Unamid
weeping during their burial at the National Military Cemetery
in Abuja, yesterday.
Both attacks again indicated the threat posed by Boko Haram,
who have been pushed out of captured towns and villages by
a four-nation military offensive since February. But deadly
raids, shelling, explosions and suicide attacks on “soft”
targets such as markets and mosques have continued.
On Tuesday, 10 people were killed when explosives carried
by a girl thought to be aged just 12 detonated at the weekly
market in the village of Wagir, south of the Yobe state
capital, Damaturu.
Thirty others were injured in the attack, which bore all the
hallmarks of the Islamists, who have used women and young
girls as human bombs since the middle of last year.
Security analysts studying the phenomenon have suggested
that younger girls may have their explosives detonated
remotely by a third party. Ending the insurgency is a priority
for Buhari and his administration. The new president has
already visited Chad and Niger to secure sustained regional
support for the fight-back.
On Tuesday, his office said he had accepted an invitation to
go to Cameroon, whose far north region has been
increasingly hit by the violence. A new regional fighting
force comprising 8,700 troops from Nigeria, Niger, Chad,
Cameroon and Benin is due to deploy at the end of next
month.
But there will be pressure to counter Boko Haram’s urban
guerrilla tactics to which it has reverted after it captured
swathes of territory last year.

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