Sunday, 25 May 2014

Boko Haram militants kill dozens in latest Nigeria attacks

Suspected Islamist Boko Haram gunmen have attacked three villages in northern Nigeria, killing 28 people and burning houses to the ground in a pattern of violence that has become almost a daily occurrence, police and witnesses have said.

Separately, a suicide bombing that was meant to happen at the TV screening of a football match in the central Nigerian city of Jos on Saturday killed three people before the bomber reached the target, a witness told Reuters.

The bomber approached the Jos Viewing Centre while people were watching Real Madrid play Atletico Madrid, but he failed to get there before his car exploded, a local journalist at the scene, Mohammed Shittu, said.

The three attacks on villages took place on Thursday in remote parts of Borno state, the epicentre of Boko Haram's increasingly bloody struggle for an Islamic kingdom in religiously mixed Nigeria.

Vigilantes dubbed 'Civilian JTF' interrogate a suspected Boko Haram informant in north-east Nigeria on Saturday. Photograph: Aminu Abubakar/AFP/Getty Images
One took place right next to Chibok, by the Cameroon border, from where more than 200 schoolgirls were abducted last month.

The most deadly was in the town of Kerenua, near the Niger border. Scores of militants opened fire on residents, killing 20, and burned houses, police said.

A police source said some telephone signals to the militants had been tracked to neighbouring Niger, suggesting they may have been directed from there. Dozens had been wounded by bullets, he said.

Since the girls' abduction on 14 April at least 450 civilians have been killed by the group, a count by Reuters shows.

A spate of bombings in northern and central Nigeria has killed hundreds of civilians, including two attacks in the capital Abuja and one in the central city of Jos on Tuesday, in which 118 people died.

There was another attack in the small village of Kubur Viu, a few miles from Chibok, a resident Simeon Yhana said. The police source confirmed the attack and the death toll.

“They killed five people. This place is right next to Chibok. The military is supposed to be protecting this area but we fear these people [Boko Haram] are coming back,” Yhana said.

Militants shot dead three more people in an attack on the village of Kimba, the police source said.

The Nigerian president, Goodluck Jonathan, was in South Africa on Saturday to discuss ways of tackling Islamist militancy across the continent with other African heads of state, his office said.

Nigeria and its neighbours say Boko Haram – which has killed thousands of people in its five-year-old insurgency in Nigeria, Africa's top oil producer – threatens the security of the entire region.

The insurgents initially attacked mostly security forces and government officials after they launched their uprising in northeast Borno state's capital Maiduguri in 2009. When Jonathan ordered an offensive a year ago to flush them out, civilians formed vigilante groups to help, making them targets of the militants.
Last week Nigeria accepted help from the United States, Britain, France and China last week, and about 80 US troops were arriving in Chad to start a mission to try to free the schoolgirls, who are still in captivity.

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