Boko Haram Massacres Target Christian Village Where Three Churches Had Been Burnt Down Already

Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters
Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters

The Islamic State-affiliated terrorist group Boko Haram has killed 29 people this week after raiding two Christian villages in northern Borno State.

The attacks occurred as Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari is in Cameroon to meet with President Paul Biya regarding a strategy to eliminate the terror syndicate.

The two villages attacked are Dille and Mwuthamam in Borno, rare Christian enclaves in the mostly Muslim Nigerian north. Witnesses tell reporters that the attacks followed the typical pattern of village sieges in the area: Boko Haram jihadists shot dead anyone they could, indiscriminately, and burned down as many houses as possible. It is only known so far, the Associated Press notes, that 29 people were killed in Dille, the tally somewhat low as villagers ran and hid in bushes when they first saw an indication of attack. There is no death count for Mwuthamam.

In addition to these two attacks, the AP reports that 15 were killed and 50 injured by a suicide bomber in neighboring Damaturu.

As a testament to the amount of time that often passes between these attacks and villagers notifying authorities or the press, the Dille attack reportedly began on 1PM Monday. Nigeria’s Daily Post offers more details on the Dille attack, including that Dille had been targeted in the past for its Christian population. On July 14, Boko Haram terrorists invaded Dille and burned down three of its churches.

Witnesses say the terrorists raided the town using more sophisticated weaponry than usual, a sign that the group may be receiving aid from elsewhere to strengthen its control over Nigerian territories. Boko Haram merged with the Islamic State to form the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) earlier this year.

Witnesses stated Boko Haram terrorists were armed with AK-47s, petrol bombs, and an entire convoy of 5 Hilux vehicles.

Daily Trust notes that the terrorists also secured about 200 cows from the village, leaving residents with little protein as sustenance and replenishing their own food supply. Protein is extremely difficult to find in many parts of West Africa, leading to severe malnutrition problems.

The attacks follow a report stating that a man claiming to be a representative of Boko Haram has approached the Nigerian government requesting peace talks. The report claimed that a group of about 500 Boko Haram jihadists had decided to abandon the cause and were looking to negotiate a way to put down their arms without facing prison. The Nigerian government announced that it would have to verify the identity of the messenger and whether these reports were true before they could issue a statement regarding the possibility of opening talks.
President Buhari is not currently in Nigeria, but in neighboring Cameroon, which has also been the target of a string of Boko Haram attacks. Buhari is meeting with Cameroonian head of state Paul Biya to discuss a strategy for defeating Boko Haram. As with Chadian President Idriss Deby, Nigeria has struggled in streamlining cooperation with neighboring countries on Boko Haram offenses; Buhari hopes to ease tensions with Biya with a personal meeting.