Continuing its offensive in northeastern Nigeria, members of Boko Haram reportedly massacred at least 97 people as they raided mosques and homes today.
A witness told AFP that the terrorists first targeted Muslim worshippers as they were observing traditional prayers breaking the Ramadan fast. “They … opened fire on the worshippers, who were mostly men and young children,” the witness said. “They spared nobody. In fact, while some of the terrorists waited and set most of the corpses on fire, others proceeded to houses and shot indiscriminately at women who were preparing food.”
Over 50 fighters swarmed the village in the attack.
The evening assault occurred in the town of Kukawa, northeast of Borno State capital Maiduguri. One witness informed a Nigerian press outlet that the terrorists rounded up many villagers and shot them in two separate mosques in the town. Several other villagers were wounded. Witnesses also noted that anyone was a target for the group as they “did not spare even children between four and 12 years old who went to mosques with their fathers.”
Yesterday, terrorists reportedly attacked villagers in Monguno Local Government Area during another shooting spree. Sources told the BBC that the Boko Haram fighters “waited until villagers had finished praying before singling out the men and shooting them.” The terrorists proceeded to set fire to many buildings during their rampage.
In the two villages they targeted, the Boko Haram fighters reportedly killed 48 people and injured several others.
Last weekend, two female suicide bombers were killed by their own device as they were trying to get to Maiduguri. Their visit to Borno’s capital may have been timed to coincide with the arrival of Nigeria’s vice president to the city.
After taking control of large swaths of land late last year, Boko Haram has been pushed back on its heels by a Nigerian-led coalition including Chad and Niger. The coalition was initially successful in forcing Boko Haram from much of northeastern Nigeria. However, these attacks and others in the past few weeks indicate that the terrorist group still has the capacity to launch successful and violent operations against Nigerians and others in the region.
Boko Haram’s blatant targeting of Muslims illustrates that the group views anyone that is not with them as their enemy and a potential threat to their survival. The group is also specifically selecting “soft” targets for its operations, that is, civilian areas with little security. This is consistent with the tactics employed by other jihadist groups aligned with the Islamic State’s international organization. In the past several weeks, the Islamic State’s so-called provinces have struck Shiite mosques in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Yemen, a funeral in Yemen, and a tourist beach in Tunisia.