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Brutal Boko Haram Raid in Nigeria Kills as Many as 100

It was a particularly brutal raid, the kind that has become rare in recent months. Dozens of homes were burned to the ground. Children were abducted and carried off into the bush. People seeking refuge under a familiar tree were blown up by a suicide bomber who had infiltrated their ranks.

The suspected perpetrator is a familiar foe to this part of northeastern Nigeria: Boko Haram, the militant Islamic group that has carried out scores of attacks across the region in recent years. On Monday, government officials raised the death toll of the weekend rampage to 65 people, with twice that number injured.

Residents of Dalori, the site of the attack, said the death toll was even higher, with as many as 100 dead. Militants descended on Dalori, a small village just outside the Borno State capital, on Saturday evening. They unleashed a torrent of gunfire, setting homes ablaze as suicide bombers attacked fleeing residents.

The state capital, Maiduguri, has been a focal point of violence carried out by Boko Haram militants, who attacked the city as recently as late December. The group has carried out numerous attacks across northern Nigeria and neighboring countries in recent weeks after being scattered by a regional team of military forces that moved in and chased the militants out of villages and territory they had seized.

But most of the attacks have been carried out by suicide bombers, often by hiding explosives under religious gowns or in bags of vegetables. While devastating, those attacks have been quicker and less complex than sending several fighters to rampage through a village for hours, as appears to have been the case in Dalori, according to witnesses.

Some residents in Dalori complained that the authorities had not arrived fast enough to help fight the attackers. In a news release, military officials reassured residents "of the commitment of the military to apprehend and deal with the perpetrators." Hours before the attack this weekend, military officials announced several aerial bombings of the Sambisa Forest, where fighters are believed to be hiding.

While government and military officials maintain that they have wrested control of territory seized by Boko Haram, a handful of people have been showing up in Maiduguri recently, saying their villages have been overtaken.

Nigeria faces mounting economic problems because of the falling price of oil, on which its economy is heavily reliant.

Separately, attacks on pipelines in the southern state of Bayelsa have unleashed thousands of barrels of oil into farmland and waterways. For years, the country has battled militants hoping to trade the threat of violence for shares in oil revenue.

In Dalori, the militants arrived in cars and on motorbikes on Saturday night and began shooting indiscriminately, government officials said. Gunshots could be heard from as far away as residential housing for the University of Maiduguri, about two miles down the road. Some fighters were dressed in military uniforms, witnesses said.

The militants set fire to as many as 300 homes in the village, burning alive some people who were inside. At least three children were killed, one local government official said.

"This put the villagers and the neighborhood into pandemonium," according to a news release from Nigeria's National Emergency Management Agency, and they "started running helter-skelter."

Many residents took cover under a huge tree that was a usual evening spot for trading, officials said. Among those gathered were people from a nearby camp that served as a refuge for people who had fled their homes because of Boko Haram violence.

As they waited for the mayhem to subside, a suicide bomber sneaked in among the crowd and detonated explosives, killing and injuring numerous people, officials said.

One man said his four children had been snatched by fighters who fled with them into the bush.

A member of the Civilian Joint Task Force, an anti-Boko Haram vigilante association in the area, said the homes of the group's members had been attacked in Dalori but that members did not seem to have been singled out. The militants were merely interested in inflicting as much damage as possible.

"It is the normal Boko Haram style of attack, where they come and tear down villages," said Abba Aji Kalli, the task force member. "What they did here was to burn down what they wanted to burn, and took away what they wanted to take."

The attack added to the more than 2.5 million people who have been displaced from their homes across four countries in the region because of violence from Boko Haram. The villagers who lost their homes have nowhere to go. The nearby camp that houses thousands of other displaced people is full.

"The entire village is burnt, and the people have nowhere to stay," said Abdullahi Umar, a spokesman for the Borno State Emergency Management Agency, adding that officials would find accommodations for them somehow. "The state government will also provide them with food. They have lost almost everything: their foodstuff, cattle and the rest."

[Source: By Iliya Kure and Dionne Searcey, The New York Times, Kaduna, Nga, 01Feb16]

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small logoThis document has been published on 02Feb16 by the Equipo Nizkor and Derechos Human Rights. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.