Scores Abducted in Nigeria; Cameroon Kills Suspected Boko Haram FightersDecember 19, 2014 in Cameroon, Nigeria, West Africa
Nigeria’s Government on Friday disclosed that it is “outraged and deeply saddened” after militants attacked a remote village in northeastern Nigeria and reportedly kidnapped around 200 people. While no group has claimed responsibility, the attack bore resemblance to past attacks carried out by Boko Haram militants, who abducted more than 200 women in April from a secondary school in Chibok, which is located 24 kilometres (15 miles) from this latest incident.
Boko Haram militants have kidnapped at least 185 people, including women and children, from a Nigerian village, with local sources reporting that civilians were forced away on trucks towards Sambisa Forest, which is known to be one of Boko Haram’s strongholds. The mass abduction, which was part of an attack that also killed thirty-two people, occurred Sunday in the village of Gumsuri, Borno state. While officials have not confirmed the number of those kidnapped, local sources have reported that the number is likely to increase in the coming days and weeks as many civilians return after having fled the area during the attack.
Details of the attack took four days to emerge as the mobile phone network in the region has completely collapsed and many roads are impassable. News emerged Thursday as many of the survivors reached the city of Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state. Two local officials and a vigilante leader also confirmed the attack, stating that the local government had established the number of those abducted by contacting families. Late on Thursday, government spokesman Mike Omeri released a statement, condemning the “deplorable act,” adding that it was currently “…impossible to verify the number of those missing at this early stage because it is presumed that many civilians fled during the attack.”
Gumsuri is located roughly 70 kilometres (43 miles) south of Maiduguri and is located on the road that leads to Chibok, where Boko Haram kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls. Boko Haram has been increasingly using kidnappings to boost its supply of child fighters, protesters and young women. It is believed that the schoolgirls kidnapped in Chibok are now being forced to carryout suicide bombings across northeastern Nigeria. In recent month, a number of deadly attacks have been carried out young female suicide bombers. The mass abductions in Chibok brought unprecedented attention to Boko Haram’s five-year uprising. Despite President Goodluck Jonathan vowing to end the conflict, the violence has escalated since April and Sunday’s attack in Gumsuri will likely cast further doubt on Nigeria’s ability to contain the crisis.
Meanwhile in neighbouring Cameroon, officials disclosed Thursday that troops have killed 116 Nigerian Boko Haram fighters in the far north. According to the defence ministry, insurgents attacked an army base in Amchide, which lies on the border with Nigeria, on Wednesday but were repelled by soldiers. Sources have reported that Boko Haram sustained heavy losses during the attack.
A statement released by the Cameroonian army disclosed “a column made up of a military truck and four pick-ups from the BIR (elite Rapid Intervention Battalion) were caught in an ambush that began with an explosion of a roadside bomb,” adding “at the same time… the Amchide military base was attacked by hundreds of fighters from the sect, but the response from our defence forces was instant and appropriate.” The statement further indicated, “there are 116 of the assailants dead on Cameroonian territory and undetermined casualties on the Nigerian territory from our artillery fire…there is one dead on the Cameroonian side and one officer missing.” According to the Cameroonian army, Boko Haram fighters destroyed a pick-up and a troop truck and managed to capture another military truck.
Boko Haram has increasingly threatened the northern region of Cameroon. While in the past, the militants have carried out repeated massacres of civilians and have attacked villages near the border with Nigeria, the militant group now appears to be increasingly targeting the military. It is believed that Boko Haram is seeking to replenish its military supplies in a bid to maintain power over the current towns and villages under its control and to seize further territory in northeastern Nigeria.