Boko Haram jihadists have reportedly closed in on the Nigerian city of Maiduguri, which has an estimated population of two million, along with another 200,000 who are currently taking refuge within its borders.
Residents have said that the Boko Haram terrorists warned them that they are readying “a big grave” for Maiduguri’s residents and that “there will be no mercy.”
A local resident told the CBC regarding Boko Haram, “They kept saying they were chasing us so that we can all run into the big grave they are preparing for us in Maiduguri.”
Residents are said to be too afraid to leave the city, but also fearful that the militants may imminently launch an offensive into Maiduguri.
Two local state legislators, Adamu Kamale and Emmanuel Kwache, have begged the Nigerian military to send troops into the area to protect its residents. “They don’t spare anything: they slaughter people like rams and they burned down our houses after looting food,” said Kwache. “There’s no presence of troops, some residents are hiding on top of hills, while those that could not run were abducted, particularly youths and women,” he added.
In recent weeks, Boko Haram has kidnapped hundreds of women and children, burned down dozens of villages, and killed thousands of innocent Nigerian civilians. The Islamist group has also recently released photos reportedly showing a child-soldier indoctrination camp.
Some 1.5 million Nigerians have become displaced as a result of Boko Haram’s jihad throughout the country.
Domestically, Nigeria has a hotly-contested upcoming presidential election on February 14 between Christian President Goodluck Jonathan and Muslim candidate Muhammadu Buhari.