Islamist Militants Kill Hundreds of Civilians in Northeastern Nigeria

The New York Times/May 7, 2014

By Adam Nossitermay

Abuja, Nigeria — Islamist insurgents have killed hundreds in a town in Nigeria’s northeast this week, the area’s senator, a resident and the Nigerian news media reported on Wednesday, as more than 200 schoolgirls abducted by the militants, known as Boko Haram, remained missing.

The latest attack, on Monday, followed a classic Boko Haram pattern: Dozens of militants wearing fatigues and wielding AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenade launchers descended on the town of Gamboru Ngala, chanting “Allahu akbar,” firing indiscriminately and torching houses. When it was over, at least 336 people had been killed and hundreds of houses and cars had been set on fire, said Waziri Hassan, who lives there, and Senator Ahmed Zanna.

The missing schoolgirls have grabbed the world’s attention, and more offers of help poured in to the Nigerian government on Wednesday from Britain, China and France. But Boko Haram’s deadly attack on Gamboru Ngala was similar to many others in the past several years that drew little or no notice beyond Nigeria. Bodies still lay in the street on Wednesday night, said Mr. Hassan, a cement salesman.

The town is on the Cameroon border and, as with other Boko Haram targets, many of its youth had joined an anti-Islamist vigilante force and were helping the Nigerian Army. “The young men have been defending the town for quite some time,” Mr. Zanna said. The insurgents have punished other such towns in the region with mass killings and indiscriminate arson.

People ran into their homes to save themselves, said Mr. Hassan, who heard the attackers chanting. “We were in our rooms four to six hours, and they started razing the houses,” he said.

Gamboru, a town of perhaps 3,000 people, “is now burned into ashes,” Mr. Hassan said. “I saw it with my own eyes, 171 dead bodies, scattered around.”

At least 18 police officers were killed, but Mr. Zanna said there were no military forces in the town because all had been drafted in the search for the schoolgirls. Mr. Hassan said no officials had been to the town since it was attacked.

“Yesterday, people were still trying to pick up dead bodies,” Mr. Zanna said. “It’s really traumatizing.” The senator said the insurgents had used two armored personnel carriers stolen from the Nigerian military several months ago.

“There is no presence of security men in that area,” he said, and the militants “are having a field day.”

Mr. Hassan said most of the remaining residents had fled to Cameroon. He has returned — his house is less than a quarter-mile from the border — but he said life had become very difficult there. There is nothing left: The market, one of the largest in Borno State, has been burned to the ground, and so has the principal hospital.

“We don’t even have drinking water,” he said. “We don’t have shops in Gamboru. We have to run to Cameroon to get something to eat.”

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.

Educational DVDs and Videos