Over the weekend, the al Qaeda-linked Boko Haram killed 74 people in two attacks in the northern Nigerian states of Borno and Adamawa. Nigeria recently extended the state of emergency in Borno and Adamawa, as well as in Yobe, a third northern state, due to the Boko Haram insurgency.
At least 50 Boko Haram fighters yesterday attacked the town of Kawuri, approximately 70 kilometers from the Borno state capital of Maiduguri. The attack was timed to coincide with the town’s weekly market in order to provide cover for the fighters while they took up position. According to survivor Malam Isa Ibrahim, Boko Haram arrived in town “using four wheel vehicles and pretended to be villagers coming to the market.” The group had also pre-emptively planted explosive devices around the town, maximizing casualties.
Police Commissioner Alhaji Lawan Tanko confirmed the attack, but would not give details on casualties. In a text message to reporters he wrote: “Kawuri was attacked yesterday (Sunday) resulting in several deaths and injuries. Casualties are being counted. No exact figure yet.” According to Nigeria’s Daily Post, during the attack one soldier and 51 civilians were killed, several policemen and civilians were injured, and over 300 houses and shops were set on fire. The casualty figures were confirmed by a police official speaking on condition of anonymity.
The attack marks the second time that Boko Haram has targeted Kawuri. In October last year, the town was the scene of a clash between the insurgents and the Civilian JTF in which 10 people were killed, and 48 shops and 200 houses were destroyed.
To the south of Borno, in Adamawa state, an armed group thought to be Boko Haram attacked a church during Sunday services in the village of Chakawa. Much like the attack in Borno, the militants in Chakawa used guns and explosives during their assault, and burned buildings to the ground. The spokesman for the Catholic Diocese of Yola, Reverend Father Raymond Danbouye, confirmed to Reuters that 22 people were killed in the attack and were buried on Monday.
Under pressure that he is not doing enough to curb Boko Haram, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan recently overhauled his defense staff, issuing letters of retirement to senior officers, including 40 generals, and appointed Air Marshal Alex S. Badeh, an air force officer from the northeast as the Chief of Defense. However, while Air Marshal Badeh claimed just last week that he will eradicate the Boko Haram insurgency by the end of April, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees released a report stating that 6,000 people have fled northern Nigeria to Cameroon and Niger in the past two weeks due to the activities of Boko Haram.