As many as 300 people died in a Nigerian border town on Wednesday in what officials described as an large and vicious attack by Islamist militants. Borno's state information commissioner Mohammed Bulama gave more details on the attack to the AP, which took place overnight in town of Gamboru Ngala. Homes and shops were set on fire, Bulama said, adding that "many, many" were presumed dead.
Nigeria's Daily Post, citing Nigerian Senator Ahmed Zannah, said that the attack lasted for over 12 hours. Insurgents, widely believed to be part of Boko Haram, drove into the town on trucks and opened fire on crowds of people. Then, they razed the town itself. Zannah said that “The attackers stormed the communities in the night when residents were still sleeping, setting ablaze houses and shooting residents who tried to escape from the fire."
Zannah added that the attack came about an hour after security forces stationed there moved away from the town to look into possible sightings of the Boko Haram insurgents who kidnapped hundreds of schoolgirls weeks ago.
Over 1,500 people have died so far in Boko Haram attacks since the start of this year, the AP reported. The extremist group wants to remove what they believe are "western" institutions from the country (for example, education), and impose Islamic law, even though roughly half of Nigeria's population is Christian. Yesterday, the U.S. announced that it would assist Nigeria in its unsuccessful search for the kidnapped school girls, whom Boko Haram has threatened to sell into forced marriage and slavery.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.