“And God will provide rest for you who are being persecuted, and also for us, when the Lord Jesus appears from heaven.” 2 Thessalonians 1:7 (NLT)
While dust still stirs from the terror attacks in Paris last week, news of another alarming assault in Nigeria is quickly coming to light; with bodies ‘littered on the streets’ after Islamist militant group Boko Haram attacks the northeastern town of Baga.
Two locals said the Islamist insurgents began shooting indiscriminately and burning buildings on Tuesday evening in raids on the civilian population that carried on into Wednesday.
More than 2,000 people are unaccounted for according to Musa Bukar, chairman of local government for the Kukawa district, which includes Baga.
The dead are “littered on the streets and surrounding bushes”, said Mr Bukar, speaking from a camp in the city of Maiduguri that is sheltering people who have fled the attacks.
On January 3rd, Boko Haram captured the headquarters of a multinational military force in Baga set up to combat the insurgency.
The insurgency killed more than 10,000 people last year, according to a count by the Council on Foreign Relations in November.
The New Yorker Reports: Over the past six months, Boko Haram has taken control of more than two dozen towns in northeast Nigeria, most of them in Borno State, and launched attacks into Chad and Cameroon. Their territory now nearly equals the Islamic State’s in Iraq and Syria.
Boko Haram has terrorized northern Nigeria regularly since 2009, attacking police, schools, churches and civilians, and bombing government buildings.
The Islamist group has said its aim is to impose a stricter form of Sharia law across Nigeria, which is split between a majority Muslim north and a mostly Christian south.
The group’s brutal tactics have shocked and stunned the world.
It has kidnapped students, including more than 200 schoolgirls who were abducted in April — and remain missing.
On Saturday, explosives strapped to a girl detonated at a crowded marketplace in Nigeria, killing at least 20 people. Although no one has claimed responsibility, Boko Haram militants are the main suspects.
But the scale of the early January attack — the death of hundreds, possibly thousands — defies belief.
Amnesty International called the massacre Boko Haram’s “deadliest act.”
Stranded on an island
The misery is far from over. Those who survived the attack and tried to swim to Chad are now stranded on Kangala Island on Lake Chad.
Chadian authorities are asking the United Nations to help relocate more than 1,000 of them.
Abubakar Gamandi, a native of Baga who was away during the attack, said those trapped there are dying.
- “I have been in touch with them on the phone,” he said. “They told me some of them are dying from lack of food, cold and malaria on the mosquito-infested island.”
Mike Omeri, a national security spokesman, said Nigerian troops are pursuing the militants.
- “Security forces have responded rapidly and have deployed significant military assets and conducted airstrikes against militant targets,” Omeri said. “Troops are engaged in operations to reclaim the area from the terrorists.”
But Gamandi, the Baga native, said it’s not true.
- “From information we are receiving from residents nearby, not a single Nigerian soldier has shown up in Baga since it was seized by Boko Haram,” he said. “It is all propaganda.”
Critics have accused President Goodluck Jonathan’s government of not doing enough to address the insurgency, which mostly affects opposition strongholds.
Nigeria is holding presidential elections next month. Last week, Jonathan launched his re-election bid in a raucous rally in Lagos.
He did not say a word about the massacres.