A group of an estimated 20 Boko Haram terrorists attacked a northeastern Nigerian village on Sunday night after gathering Muslims during evening prayers, claiming to be preachers, and bombing the village’s mosque while shooting anyone in sight. The attack differs from many as the Islamist group tends to target Christian populations.
Multiple Nigerian newspapers reporting on the event have a wide variety of death tolls for the attack in Kwajaffa village in Borno State, Boko Haram’s stronghold in the nation. Vanguard reports that 25 have been confirmed dead, one more than Reuters. Naij places the death toll up to 50.
What does not seem to vary are the details in eyewitness reports about how the Boko Haram terrorists lulled Muslim villagers to gather at their mosque to listen to Islamic teachings, only to shoot everyone in sight and bomb the mosque, as well as razing numerous homes. Vanguard notes that Kwajaffa is “a predominantly Christian community” whose church Boko Haram had already burnt down, possibly leaving the mosque as the only prominent target in the village.
Speaking to Nigeria’s Daily Trust, a witness identified as Musa Aliyu explained that “we were preparing for the Maghrib (Sunset) prayers” when the group of about 20 attackers arrived in the village. “The first set of the assailants gathered some people near the village square and told them they were there for preaching strictly but sadly, when about 40 people gathered, they opened fire on them,” he noted. Aliyu adds the detail that the terrorists waited for the mosque to be full at prayer time to throw an explosive device inside and lock the door. Nine people are confirmed dead in the mosque attack alone, while dozens of others sustained serious burns.
Vanguard adds that the terrorists were armed with “AK47 rifles, petrol bombs and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).”
This is the first major attack by Boko Haram since they were unsuccessful in attempts to thwart the Nigerian presidential election in the last week of March. Incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan lost to his opponent, former Nigerian dictator Muhammadu Buhari, largely due to his perceived inability to minimize the Boko Haram threat. Buhari, who has been personally targeted by Boko Haram terrorist attacks despite being a Muslim from the Nigerian north the group calls home, has vowed to “spare no effort” to destroy the jihadist group,