Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan. Photo Reuters
Suspected Islamist militants have killed dozens of people
in an attack on three Nigerian villages, including one
targeting worshippers at a church, a few kilometres from
Chibok, the scene of an abduction of more than 200 schoolgirls.
Violence in Nigeria's northeast has been relentless in the
past year and has gained in intensity since April, when more
than 200 schoolgirls were snatched by Boko Haram rebels from
Chibok. Efforts to free them, which have attracted Western
support, have so far not succeeded.
In a separate assault on Friday evening insurgents killed
seven soldiers in the village of Goniri, in Yobe state, a
security source and witnesses said.
The attackers on Sunday made simultaneous strikes on three
villages in the Chibok community, in Borno state.
Boko Haram, which is fighting for an Islamic state in largely
Muslim northern Nigeria, has killed thousands since launching
an uprising on 2009, and many hundreds in the past three
It is by far the biggest security threat to Africa's largest
economy and top oil producer, and has overshadowed government
efforts to project an image of Nigeria to foreign investors
as a prospective economic giant.
Samuel Chibok, a survivor of the attack on Kautikiri village,
about five km from where the girls were snatched, said that
around 20 men in a Toyota pick-up truck and motorcycles
rolled into town. They sprayed it with bullets, focusing much
of their fire power on panicked worshippers in a local
"Initially I thought they were military but when I came out,
they were firing at people. I saw people fleeing and they
burned our houses," he said, adding that some people had died
in the attack, including two of his relatives.
"Smoke was billowing from our town as I left."
A local pro-government vigilante, who declined to be named,
said residents had now recovered 15 bodies from the village.
He added that many of the deaths occurred when worshippers
were locked in a church, which was then sprayed with bullets.
HEAVY DEATH TOLL
Boko Haram often attacks institutions it sees as against its
strict version of Sunni Islam, including churches, bars and
non-religious schools that teach Western ideas like science.
Another attack on Kwada, eight km (five miles) from Chibok
village, left dozens of people dead, a security source
operating in the area said, although the precise toll was not
A senior advisor to Borno state governor Kassim Shettima, who
declined to be named because he was not authorised to speak,
said there had also been a third attack on Nguragida, his
home village which he visited on Sunday. Nine bodies had been
recovered from that attack, he said.
An explosion on Friday night in a brothel in the northeastern
Nigerian city of Bauchi killed 11 people and wounded 28,
police said on Saturday. This attack was also believed to be
the work of Boko Haram.
A military operation in the northeast has so far failed to
quell the rebellion and has triggered reprisal attacks that
are increasingly targeting civilians, after they formed
vigilante groups to try to help the government flush out the
But their tactics - often striking then fleeing over the
border into Cameroon - have repeatedly proved devastating.
They are well armed and funded by a lucrative kidnapping
In Friday night's attack on a military outpost, suspected
Boko Haram fighters arrived in four armoured personel
carriers and 11 Hilux trucks mounted with anti-aircraft guns,
said a security source and a witness who gave his name only
"They were all dressed in full military but they did not
direct their onslaught on the civilian population," Hamisu
said by telephone.
The militants are extending their reach beyond their remote
northeastern heartlands. A bomb in an upmarket shopping
district of the capital Abuja killed 21 people on Wednesday,
the third attack on the capital in three months.
President Goodluck Jonathan said Nigeria had entered one of
the darkest phases of its history during a visit to the scene
of the Abuja blast on Friday.