Insecurity Continues in Nigeria; Spills into Cameroon
On Friday, September 19th, as trading was in full swing in the northeastern town of Mainoik, an extremist group that is located primarily in Northern Nigeria fighters reportedly stormed the market place around 1:30pm, opening fire on traders and killing at least 36 people. Many who tried to escape the market area were killed by stray bullets or by vehicles as they attempted to flee across the highway. The town is less than 35 miles west of Borno’s state capital Maiduguri. The military say they killed at least 48 insurgents as they fled the town.
One day before the assault on Mainoik, Boko Haram attacked the Federal College of Education in Kano. At least 15 people died in this attack. Witnesses said the attackers stormed the college, exchanging fire with police officers posted outside the grounds. There was at least one suicide bomber among the group whose explosives detonated when police shot him. The explosion caused the ceiling in one of the buildings to collapse. Several of the insurgents entered a lecture hall and opened fire on the students.
Boko Haram’s violent attacks also occurred across the border in Cameroon. The militants launched their first assault in the early evening of September 18th in Assighassia. The army responded promptly; two militants were killed and a Cameroonian soldier injured in the ensuing fight. “Two hours later, the terrorist group again attacked the village of Ganse, and killed four civilians,” state-run Cameroon Radio Television reported. More than 40,000 people have fled to Cameroon to escape Boko Haram attacks in northern Nigeria. Now, the danger is following them across the border, prompting the UNHCR to try to move these refugees further from the frontlines.
Meanwhile, the bishops of Nigeria, in a September 21st statement, called upon the Nigerian government to do more to protect lives and properties. “As Nigeria tragically bleeds and burns, we bishops are alarmed at the scale of human and material destruction, and at the disruption of village and community life with increased levels of hatred and the potential for more conflicts in the nation. While Muslims are sometimes targets of these destructive attacks, Christians churches and non-Muslims in general are the principal targets for extermination, expropriation and expulsion by the Boko Haram insurgents, the perpetrators of all this destruction’ In the face of this Boko Haram group and other criminal militias arming themselves beyond our legitimate government and brazenly killing innocent, defenseless citizens, our government must do more than it is currently doing to safeguard our lives and defend our nation. It must do more than it is currently doing to fight off and disarm these actual destroyers of Nigerians and Nigeria. It must do more than it is currently doing to prevent segments of our nation from drifting into anarchy and mutual self-destruction and to bring criminals to justice,” the bishops declared.
Father, we pray for the nation of Nigeria and the constant onslaught of Boko Haram attacks. You call us to trust in You, and not in governments or other man-made institutions who cannot save. And so we turn to You; that You will save and empower the nation’s forces to combat these attacks in a way that it will be clear that it has come from You. We pray for Christians who faithfully come to church and worship each week, knowing the danger. We pray for the girls who were kidnapped and their families; that You would protect and reunite them. And we pray for the many who have lost homes and family members; that You would provide comfort and shelter and sustenance, and that You would grant hope. In the name of Jesus, their only hope (and ours) in this life, Amen.