Islamist Militants in Nigeria Kidnap 185 in a Deadly Attack on a Village

The New York Times/December 18, 2014

Maiduguri, Nigeria -- Islamist militants on Sunday killed 35 people and kidnapped about 185 others, primarily women and young girls, in a small village in northeastern Nigeria, survivors of the attack and local officials said Thursday.

The attack took place in the remote farming village of Gumsuri, and it took days for word to reach government officials here in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State. Although no one has claimed responsibility for the attack, Boko Haram, the extremist group that operates widely in the volatile northeastern part of the country, is suspected of being responsible.

Gumsuri is less than 15 miles from the village of Chibok, where Boko Haram fighters kidnapped 276 schoolgirls in April and fled with them into the bush. More than 200 of the girls are still missing.

The gunmen, who stormed Gumsuri from two directions, initially killed 32 residents, an official in the Department of State Security said. Three other people died later in hospitals.

“The terrorists were armed to the teeth,” said Babagana Abbaram, 33, a village resident who survived the attack. “They had AK-47 rifles and other weapons. They also had petrol bombs, which they used in setting the village ablaze.”

“Youths in Gumsuri also killed some of the militants,” Mr. Abbaram said. Officials said that perhaps a dozen of the militants had died in the fighting.

Villagers had repelled several previous attacks, Mr. Abbaram said. “In fact, it was as if they were on a vengeance mission,” he said. “This time around, they overwhelmed us, because we only had den guns, bows and arrows.”

Although most of the missing are young girls and married women, a few men were also abducted, Mr. Abbaram said, adding, “Our fear is that they may indoctrinate them.”

Saadatu Musa, another resident of the village, said that two of her teenage children were missing. “It took me three days to get to Maiduguri, but I have lost all my belongings,” she said. “More than half of our village has been destroyed by the attackers.”

Reuters reported that a government spokesman, Mike Omeri, said in a statement: “The government is outraged and deeply saddened by this deplorable act. Boko Haram continues to choose, ever cowardly, to target civilian populations to spread their brand of terror.”

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