Scores feared dead as Boko Haram strikes northern Nigeria
Sunday, February 16, 2014
By Rafiu Ajakaye
LAGOS - Suspected Boko Harm militants on Sunday attacked Izge Rana, an agrarian village in Nigeria's northeastern Borno State, killing and injuring a yet unconfirmed number of people.
"They came in their numbers this early morning with heavy weapons such as pomp action guns, AK47 rifles, submachine guns and anti-aircraft weapons," Nasir Dan Girma, a resident of Izge, told AA.
"Many of our people were killed. At the last count, I counted more than 17 people," said the eyewitness.
"The victims were mainly women and children because most able-bodied men were quick to run away, having seen them approaching the village," he added.
Izge is one of the many Nigeria-Cameroon border communities and is located a few kilometers south of Maiduguri, the capital of the insurgency-gripped Borno state.
Dan Girma, who said some of the insurgents wore military fatigues, said neither policemen nor soldiers were seen while the attack lasted.
"I wouldn't know if they (security operatives) later came because I later escaped from my hiding place when I sensed that the intention of the terrorists could be to overrun the entire place," he added.
Another eyewitness, Ahmed Bichi, told AA that the attack was "very brutal."
"The insurgents entered the village from different directions. It was like a siege on the community," he added, who escaped with a leg injury.
Bichi fled to Maiduguri along with two of his daughters, aged 13 and 16 respectively.
"Scores of people have been killed, many of our people sustained gunshot injuries and the terrorists were also burning down our buildings," he recalled.
"They see us as enemy fighters whereas we are just civilians. If they complain of anything about Nigeria, I don't think it is fair to hold us responsible for this," said the villager.
Neither the police nor the military comment to the early morning attack on Izge.
Military spokesman Mohamed Dole did not answer calls to his telephone lines, while the police chief in the state, Lawal Tanko, could not be reached for comments.
Boko Haram, a hitherto peaceful organization that had preached against corruption, suddenly turned violent in 2009 following the murder of group leader Mohamed Yusuf while in police custody.
In the years since, the group has been blamed for thousands of terrorist acts, including attacks on churches and security posts across Nigeria's northern region, especially the three northeastern states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa.
Although it claims to want an Islamist government in the region, Nigerian Muslims – most of whom reject Boko Haram as un-Islamic – have also been targeted by the militant group.
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