Boko Haram is once again in the spotlight with attacks that killed 49 people in two separate cases as the world unites to fight this terror that has hit Nigeria. Gunmen killed 49 people in separate attacks on villages in Borno state, according to eyewitnesses and security sources. These attacks follow bomb blasts in Kenya earlier this week, which claimed the lives of ten people and injured many. Following the kidnapping of over 200 Nigerian female students from the Government Secondary School in Chibok, Borno State, Boko Haram has threatened to kidnap more pupils.
Descending on the town in the early hours of Saturday, May 17, gunmen in large numbers attacked the isolated, yet quiet, farming community of Dalwa-Masuba, Damboa, killing at least 40 people, injuring several others, and lighting the village on fire. The attacks came as a surprise and, as a member of the security vigilante puts it, no security personnel arrived on time, leaving them helpless. It was reported that three firewood pick-up trucks were torched in the community. Dalwa-Masuba is a 40km drive from Damboa and about 80km southwest of Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State. The first attack was reported some hours earlier at 6 p.m. on Friday evening, along the Maiduguri-Damaturu highway. The Boko Haram attacked and killed nine people and escaped with a truck loaded with beans. A bus driver said he did not notice the attackers until he ran into them on the highway. He managed to escape, but three of his passengers died of bullet wounds. Relating his story to newsmen, the tearful driver said, “I failed to notice that people in the nearby village were stopping me. The attackers shot at my vehicle and killed three people. The rest of us were lucky to have escaped.” Eyewitnesses said that the gunmen were engaged in a tussle with security personnel at the check-post, but managed to escape with the lorry that held 150 bags of beans.
Witnesses claimed that the death toll would have been even higher, had the police not arrived when they did. Though police did not respond to clarifications or confirmations on these incidents, junior officers said that they were aware of the attacks. The director of Defense Information, Major General Chris Olukolade later confirmed, “Yes there was an attack along Damaturu road and some soldiers were wounded in the process of repelling the attack.” He was not able to confirm the death count at Benisheik.
Local vigilantes ambushed Boko Haram insurgents, killing dozens of them, in the Madagali local government area of Adamawa State. A suspected member of the sect driving a Hilux van purchased food from a local market and was then traced to a hideout, where he was later ambushed and killed. Soldiers and vigilantes seem to have formed an alliance as they attacked the insurgents. The ambush killed a dozen insurgents. “After a tip-off that the insurgents set up a camp in Madagali from where they could launch attacks, we contacted the military and mobilized our vigilante to intercept them. The combined effort of soldiers and the vigilante led to the killing of 90 Boko Haram fighters,” an officer later reported online. He also added that seven soldiers, including Captain Akintola and the commanding officer of 123 battalions, also lost their lives in the gun battle which took place between Bita and Jaji in Madagali area on the border with Borno State. Corpses of the slain officers were deposited at the Federal Medical Center.
Some reports say that the kidnapped girls have been seen being moved out of Nigeria, while others say that they have been moved to the northern parts of the Central African Republic where an Islamic militia, Seleka, holds control. Abubakar Shekau, the leader of the Boko Haram, which translates as “Western Education is Sinful,” released a video asking for the release of detainees in exchange for the pupils. The Federal Government refused the deal and letters written in pidgin English were sent to the Principal of Government College, Makurdi, Godfrey Ugudu, threatening to attack the school. The News Agency of Nigeria reported that Ugudu received the two letters on May 14. “It is true that we saw two letters informing us of the intention of the sect to invade our school on Friday or Monday by Boko Haram,” announced Ugudu at a press conference adding, “The letters were dated May 14, 2014. The sect stated that they were coming on either of the two days to abduct our boys whom they would marry to the secondary school girls abducted in Chibok.”
Col. Didier Badjeck, spokesman for the Cameroon Ministry of Defense, spoke to AllAfrica.com about the fear of Boko Haram that is spreading in Cameroon. “The military has decided to strengthen the intelligence system to effectively counter this threat, which seems to be gaining local support. New reports claim that over ten Chinese workers and one person were reported missing, following attacks by Boko Haram at Cameroon’s border. The road workers were working at the border, which is protected by soldiers from Cameroon’s elite Rapid Intervention Battalion.
The world is uniting to wage war on Boko Haram as the terror continues after the most recent 49 deaths. France, U.K., U.S., Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger, Chad and Benin have decided to wage war on the sect after declaring them terrorists with links to al-Qaeda. At a security summit hosted by French President François Hollande, Boko Haram was described as an international threat beyond the borders of Nigeria and Africa. Nigerian Prime Minister Johnathan Goodluck, who attended the summit requested for coordinated help to tackle the terror.
Nigeria has been accused of not doing enough to locate the abducted girls and the militant group when a state of emergency had already been declared. Reports of Goodluck’s cancelled plans to visit the school last week following security concerns seemed to have the angered Nigerians. Hollande announced that the participating nations have agreed to coordinate intelligence reports, encourage rapid exchange, pool resources of any kind, react swiftly, seal frontiers, and increase African military presence in affected areas. In an open letter to the U.N. Secretary General Ban-Ki-Moon asked American and European diplomats to keep their efforts at arm’s length to avoid making the situation worse than it already is. Hollande confirmed that France would not intervene in the situation with its military, as Nigeria had available and efficient military. America has chosen not to share information it receives from the surveillance aircraft with Nigeria, as they have yet to set up an information-sharing protocol.
As countries like China, France, and the U.S. offer support and advice to Nigeria and aid in the search of the missing girls, Boko Haram’s attacks are becoming intensified. Prayers and support are pouring from everywhere in the world as the 49 slain victims are laid to rest, and the world unites to fight the war against terror once again.
By Rathan Paul Harshavardan.