Extremists kill dozens, bomb school in Nigeria
YOLA, Nigeria — Outnumbered and outgunned soldiers in northeast Nigeria abandoned checkpoints, leaving five villages and a town at the mercy of Islamic extremists who killed at least 33 people and firebombed a theological college in overnight attacks that lasted hours, survivors said Thursday.
The military, which regularly downplays death tolls, said six attackers, one soldier and three civilians died.
On Tuesday, extremists killed 59 students at a school in Yobe state, hours after soldiers were inexplicably withdrawn from a roadblock set up to protect the institution.
The recent assaults in an Islamic uprising gripping the northeast of Africa’s biggest oil producer comes amid widespread criticism of military failures despite a nine-monthold state of emergency.
“It is curious that under an emergency rule when security operatives are on red alert, this mayhem still persists,” Senate president David Mark said Wednesday in a statement calling the attacks an “open declaration of war.”
A furious Yobe state Gov. Murtala Hammanyero Nyako suggested there must be collusion with the Boko Haram terrorist network.
During an attack on a major air force base last year, he said soldiers at nearby barracks did not respond until militants had destroyed all five aircraft at the base. Nigeria’s military has admitted arresting soldiers accused of aiding extremists. A senator also has been charged.
Brig. Gen. Chris Olukolade, the Defence Ministry spokesman, said Thursday the insurgents in Adamawa are believed to be the same men who attacked the school.
Nyako, a former navy chief of staff, said the attacks ridicule President Goodluck Jonathan’s insistence that the military is winning the war against Islamic militants.
When Borno state Gov. Kashim Shettima warned that Boko Haram fighters are “better armed and better motivated,” Jonathan joked at a news conference Monday that he should withdraw troops from Borno for a month to see if Shettima could still stay in his state mansion.
Shettima is from the opposition coalition.