Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan. REUTERS/Afolabi
Suspected Islamist militants dressed as soldiers rounded
up and killed at least 42 villagers in northeastern Nigeria, as
an escalating insurgency increasingly targets civilians, a
police source said.
The shootings on the outskirts of the city of Maiduguri late
on Wednesday (local time) came a day after officials said
raiders killed scores in three other settlements in Borno
state, where Boko Haram insurgents first launched their
campaign to carve out an Islamist caliphate.
Boko Haram has stepped up its revolt and mounted nearly daily
attacks since it grabbed world headlines in April by
abducting more than 200 schoolgirls in another part of the
The mass abduction, and Boko Haram's fight-back against a
military offensive, has increased political pressure on
President Goodluck Jonathan who has faced regular street
protests by activists criticising his response.
Jonathan has accepted help from the United States and other
foreign powers who are alarmed at the prospect of further
turmoil in Africa's largest economy and oil producer, and its
potential impact on a fragile region. Borno state borders
Niger, Chad and Cameroon.
The gunmen in military uniform arrived in three vehicles,
called the civilians together in the village of Bardari, then
opened fire, the police source told Reuters. "The people
couldn't identify them in time as terrorists."
The militants then left, crossing a river and setting fire to
houses in the neighbouring village of Kayamla, added the
"Boko Haram wreaked havoc in the villages. They burned houses
and killed people mercilessly after tricking the residents,"
said Saleh Mohammed, a member of Civilian JTF - one of a
number of vigilante groups that have sprung up to try to
Those civilian groups face revenge attacks by Boko Haram,
which had focused mostly on military and government targets
in the early days of its revolt.
No group claimed responsibility for the latest attacks. Boko
Haram has no direct line of communication with the Western
press and its purported leader, Abubakar Shekau, only
occasionally claims attacks through videos circulated to
Jonathan and the army have said they are doing all they can
to release the girls, but have warned any attempt to free
them by force could put them at risk, while any deals or
prisoner swaps could encourage more kidnappings.
Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague will host a meeting
of African and Western officials in London next week aimed at
stepping up efforts to defeat Boko Haram, his office said on