Suspected militants kill 42 in northeast Nigeria: police

MAIDUGURI Nigeria Thu Jun 5, 2014 2:21pm EDT

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MAIDUGURI Nigeria (Reuters) - Suspected Islamist militants dressed as soldiers rounded up and killed at least 42 villagers in northeastern Nigeria, as an escalating insurgency increasingly targets civilians, a police source said.

The shootings on the outskirts of the city of Maiduguri late on Wednesday came a day after officials said raiders killed scores in three other settlements in Borno state, where Boko Haram insurgents first launched their campaign to carve out an Islamist caliphate.

Boko Haram has stepped up its revolt and mounted nearly daily attacks since it grabbed world headlines in April by abducting more than 200 schoolgirls in another part of the state.

The mass abduction, and Boko Haram's fight-back against a military offensive, has increased political pressure on President Goodluck Jonathan who has faced regular street protests by activists criticising his response.

Jonathan has accepted help from the United States and other foreign powers who are alarmed at the prospect of further turmoil in Africa's largest economy and oil producer, and its potential impact on a fragile region. Borno state borders Niger, Chad and Cameroon.

The gunmen in military uniform arrived in three vehicles, called the civilians together in the village of Bardari, then opened fire, the police source told Reuters. "The people couldn't identify them in time as terrorists."

The militants then left, crossing a river and setting fire to houses in the neighbouring village of Kayamla, added the source.

"Boko Haram wreaked havoc in the villages. They burned houses and killed people mercilessly after tricking the residents," said Saleh Mohammed, a member of Civilian JTF - one of a number of vigilante groups that have sprung up to try to fight back.

Those civilian groups face revenge attacks by Boko Haram, which had focused mostly on military and government targets in the early days of its revolt.

No group claimed responsibility for the latest attacks. Boko Haram has no direct line of communication with the Western press and its purported leader, Abubakar Shekau, only occasionally claims attacks through videos circulated to local journalists.

Jonathan and the army have said they are doing all they can to release the girls, but have warned any attempt to free them by force could put them at risk, while any deals or prisoner swaps could encourage more kidnappings.

Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague will host a meeting of African and Western officials in London next week aimed at stepping up efforts to defeat Boko Haram, his office said on Thursday.

(Writing by Andrew Heavens; editing by Andrew Roche)

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Comments (2)
Reality2Day wrote:
They were in military uniforms, did they also have military vehicles? Do the villagers know what type of vehicles the military uses? The villagers had no idea they were Boko Haram terrorists, you (Reuters) insinuate they are dumb or the terrorists had more than uniforms to deceive them. Explain in more detail.

How did Boko haram get the military equipment? The government is obviously incompetent and untrustworthy to protect these poor people. I’m glad they aren’t my protectors.

Jun 05, 2014 12:46pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
carlmartel wrote:
@Reality2Day

In an earlier attack, Boko Haram arrived in an armored vehicle and 6 Toyota pick ups that are often used by African militaries. President Jonathan has said that he sent two “divisions” of troops to fight Boko Haram and look for the girls. Two divisions should be 30,000 to 35,000 troops but no one has reported seeing them. They are probably names on paychecks that go to generals, politicians, and President Jonathan. Kiev had a similar problem with 41,000 listed troops and only 6,000 effectives, so 35,000 monthly paychecks went to generals, politicians, and President Yanukovich. Why should one president have all of the corruption? That would be greedy.

Jun 05, 2014 4:57pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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