According to local officials and residents, Boko Haram insurgents kidnapped at least 172 women and children and killed 35 people last week.
“They gathered the women and children and took them away in trucks after burning most of the village with petrol bombs,” a local government official reported anonymously.
Reports of the attack in northeastern Nigeria took days to become public news due to a lack of communication – it has been known that telecommunications towers in the area were disabled in previous attacks. Residents from the area fled to another area, where local officials finally learned of the attack.
Local vigilantes from the village of Gumsuri who were previously able to hold off the insurgents’ attacks were reportedly overwhelmed by the most recent attack.
”They destroyed almost half the village and took away 185 women, girls and boys,” Umar Ari, a resident who fled the area, said.
Boko Haram has not officially taken responsibility for this most recent attack, but the attack closely resembled the group’s common methods. According to residents, gunfire was preceded by insurgents shouting, “God is great!”
Other residents reported insurgents fired machine guns and used gasoline to set houses on fire. Hundreds of Gumsuri residents have fled to Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state. Maiduguri is struggling to deal with the numbers of people fleeing to the city from Boko Haram attacks in their hometowns.
Boko Haram attacks have been commonplace since around 2009. The terrorist group has attacked schools, kidnapped women and children, and bombed government buildings. The most internationally well-known attack was over the summer when Boko Haram kidnapped more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls. The kidnapping inspired the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls, but activism surrounding the incident faded with time when the girls were not rescued.
According to a US Congresional Research Service report, Boko Haram has been involved in the deaths of more than 5,000 people, and kidnappings have become more frequent this year.
Media Resources: CNN 12/18/2014; Reuters 12/18/2014; Feminist Newswire 10/23/14, 11/7/14