Boko Haram militants killed 32 people and kidnapped scores of others in an attack on the village of Gumsuri in restive northeast Nigeria, local officials and a witness said yesterday.
The two officials, who requested anonymity, said locals were still counting those abducted in the attack on Sunday in the remote area, but that the figure could pass 100, and included women and children.
“After killing our youths, the insurgents have taken away our wives and daughters,” said Mukhtar Buba, who fled Gumsuri to the Borno state capital, Maiduguri.
Details took four days to emerge because the mobile phone network has largely collapsed in the area roughly 70km south of Maiduguri, and many of the roads are impassable.
Gamsuri is located on the road that leads to Chibok, where Boko Haram abducted more than 200 girls from a school in April.
One of the local officials said the village had previously been protected against Boko Haram violence by a strong vigilante force, but that they were overpowered in Sunday’s attack.
“For the past one year, the insurgents have made several attempts to attack Gumsuri, but were resisted by the gallant youths of the village,” he told reporters.
“It is sad that on Sunday, the village was subdued,” he added.
The military and police were not immediately available for comment.
Boko Haram has repeatedly attacked vigilante forces which have formed across the northeast, describing them as legitimate targets for siding with Nigeria’s military.
The other local official said the insurgents “stormed the village in a convoy of vehicles [armed] with petrol bombs” and heavy weapons.
Buba, the resident, said more than half the village had been destroyed.
“The terrorists mercilessly attacked us and killed at will,” he said.
Borno is the epicenter of Boko Haram’s five-year uprising aimed at creating a strict Muslim state in northern Nigeria.
Attacks similar to Sunday’s violence in Gumsuri have escalated over the past 18 months, with the insurgents taking control of more than two dozen towns and villages in the region. Kidnappings have also increased, part of a campaign by Boko Haram to boost its supply of child fighters, porters and young women who have reportedly been used as sex slaves.
The military has offered repeated assurances that the uprising will soon be contained, but so far there have been few signs of progress.
More than 1.5 million people have fled their homes and concerns are rising that relentless unrest will prevent voters in the region from participating in general elections set for Feb. 14.
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