Hundreds of people are believed dead and scores more injured after attacks in villages in North-Eastern Nigeria supposedly carried out by Boko Haram extremists. This attack would be Boko Haram’s most devastating to date if reports are confirmed.
The attack that occurred in the last 24 hours in the Gwoza local district in Borno State in the North-East of the country was carried out by Boko Haram gunmen posing as local law enforcers. The gunmen have torn through the Gwoza district killing hundreds of civilians and have caused heavy destruction to churches, mosques, homes and whole villages.
The latest figures surfacing suggest a minimum death toll of around 200 people, with rumours that as many as 600 could be dead. Reports suggest that the extremist gunmen posed as government forces after a call for military help from locals for protection.
The attackers arrived in a series of 4×4’s before opening fire on unsuspecting civilians. The attacks took place all around the local district as the gunmen made their way through several small and relatively vulnerable rural village areas.
It is believed also that this attack is similar to the ploy the Boko Haram used to capture 300 schoolgirls from Chibok back in April.
Gwoza district is located in the highly hostile North-Eastern Borno state. Borno state has for five years been believed to be the home to the Boko Haram stronghold and their highest concentration of followers. Over half a decade of tyranny and violence in Borno and its neighbouring states has brought all forms of national security in the region to its knees.
This attack comes just over a week after the announcement was made that Nigeria’s neighbours, Chad and Cameroon, had agreed to fortify their own borders with Nigeria in an effort to make their way onto Nigerian soil to help their struggling Nigerian counterparts neutralize the rapidly increasing threat.
While reports of the attacks in Gwoza are strengthening, there is no way to confirm a definite death toll, according to Peter Biye, who represents the Gwoza district in Nigeria’s lower chamber of parliament in the House of Representatives.
He says that because the insurgents in the area remain in great numbers no-one is willing to risk further deaths by travelling into the devastated area: “The killings are massive but no-one can give a death toll for now because nobody has been able to go to that place because the insurgents are still there” were the words of Mr Biye to news agency AFP.
Many more Nigerian people are said to have fled the area, either heading south or across Nigeria’s northern border with Cameroon. It is now estimated that almost 800,000 Nigerian people have fled the country to escape the escalating violence.
The horrific events are likely to spark yet more confusion and frustration from on-looking nations who are certain to ask further questions about the steadily deteriorating security situation in the country, and particularly in the Northern states where the situation remains critical.
These are the words of Jonathan Capehart in yesterday’s update on the situation in The Washington Post: “The No.1 job of any nation and its leaders is to protect their people from harm. That duty rises exponentially when some of their citizens plead for protection because they have heard that they are being targeted for the slaughter…”
“…The militant Islamist group murdered more than 200 people in three villages in the northeastern part of the country today. To make matters worse, pleas for military help went unheeded”.
Mr Capehart expresses a very obvious yet very worrying point. If there truly is a lack of military force in the northern regions of Nigeria at this present moment, the rising reputation and aggression of the Boko Haram is likely to either overwhelm what is left of the Nigerian military in the region, or force the government into a disastrous situation of contemplating conceding national ground to the extremists.
Seven days ago it appeared that unified international efforts were being made for national forces to assert themselves against the Boko Haram for the betterment of the Nigerian people. The lack of response and devastating attack in the region however is likely to throw the immediate outlook on the situation right back into the fire and, just as worryingly, into further uncertainty.
As updates and reactions to the situation develop over the coming days, fears and tension are certainly going to be rising again as the extremist movement’s tyranny continues to cast an ever advancing shadow over the nation.