Attacks by suspected Nigerian Islamic insurgent group Boko Haram killed 217 people in the country’s northeastern Borno state yesterday, a senator representing the region said.
Five villages were targeted in early morning raids by militants, Borno Central Senator Ahmed Zanna said by phone today. Sixty people were killed in Kala Balge, seven teachers died at a college in Dikwa and there were 150 deaths in three other villages in the state, he said.
With less than a year before elections, Nigerian security forces are battling to quell violence and lawlessness across large parts of the country, Africa’s biggest economy and its top oil producer. In northeastern Nigeria, the army has been fighting Boko Haram for four years in a conflict the Brussels-based International Crisis Group said this month killed more than 4,000 people and forced almost 500,000 to flee their homes.
Major-General Chris Olukolade, a spokesman for the military, didn’t answer a call to his mobile phone or immediately respond to a text message seeking comment. Presidency spokesman Reuben Abati couldn’t immediately be reached by phone or e-mail.
President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in three northeastern states in May to fight Boko Haram, which has carried out a violent campaign to impose Shariah, or Islamic law, in the country.
In a separate attack, two women were kidnapped, while dozen of houses and places of worship were burnt in the Kashimbila region of northeastern Taraba state on April 10, Joseph Kwaji, the police spokesman for the area, said by phone today, declining to say if anyone was killed.
The violence may have been a retaliation attack by ethnic Tivs from neighboring Benue state on Hausa-Fulanis, Kwaji said. Soldiers and police have been sent to the region, he said.