Ex­trem­ists in Nige­ria attack vil­lages, kill 37 and raze huts: sur­vivor

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL - BY HARUNA UMAR

Boko Haram ex­trem­ists have burned down six north­east Nige­rian vil­lages and killed 37 peo­ple near the in­sur­gents’ Sam­bisa For­est strong­hold, a sur­vivor said Fri­day.

Ahmed Ajimi, a fighter in the anti-Boko Haram Nige­rian Vig­i­lante Group, said many vic­tims of Wed­nes­day night’s at­tacks were farm­ers who had re­cently re­turned home af­ter sol­diers ear­lier this year forced the ex­trem­ists out of the area where they had de­clared an Is­lamic caliphate.

Now they are refugees again, with many sur­vivors suf­fer­ing gun­shot wounds and burns, Ajimi told The As­so­ci­ated Press in a tele­phone call from Biu town, 100 kilo­me­ters west of the de­stroyed vil­lages.

Hit-and-run at­tacks and sui­cide bomb­ings have con­tin­ued. Boko Haram last week de­nied Nige­rian mil­i­tary re­ports that mil­i­tant fighters are hemmed into the Sam­bisa For­est and claimed its fighters still hold towns hun­dreds of kilo­me­ters away. There was no way to ver­ify the com­pet­ing claims.

“It was re­ally hor­ri­fy­ing,” Ajimi said, de­scrib­ing the in­sur­gents shoot­ing from the back of pickup trucks and hurl­ing fire­bombs that quickly set ablaze the thatched roofs of scores of huts.

He said he spent the night in the bush and re­turned on Thurs­day to help bury 37 corpses.

The Is­lamic up­ris­ing is es­ti­mated to have killed some 10,000 peo­ple just last year when it be­gan at­tack­ing neigh­bor­ing coun­tries. A multi­na­tional force this year drove Boko Haram fighters out of towns and vil­lages they had held for months.

A sum­mit of Nige­ria and its neigh­bors on Thurs­day in Abuja, the Nige­rian cap­i­tal, pledged to in­crease the force to 8,500 troops by the end of July with Nige­ria pledg­ing US$30 mil­lion for the in­stal­la­tion and equip­ping of its head­quar­ters in N’Djamena, Chad’s cap­i­tal.

The lead­ers agreed to Nige­rian Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari’s sug­ges­tion that a Nige­rian gen­eral would com­mand the force with his deputy from Cameroon and the chief of staff from Chad.

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