Nigeria: Boko Haram Massacres Hundreds
A week-long Boko Haram attack which started Jan. 3 has left hundreds dead or missing and the village of Baga in ruins. The assault is one of the Islamic terrorist group’s most brutal attacks in the last six years in Nigeria. Baga is located in the northeastern state of Borno.
Boko Haram stormed into the town from several directions on motorbikes and pickup trucks. Fleeing residents, including many women and children who could not run fast enough, were chased down and killed. Many of those hiding in their homes were burnt alive, reported local media.
Some fled by canoe into neighboring Chad, while others swam, many drowning in the process. One group of about 1,000 people are stranded on an island in the middle of Lake Chad, hungry and cold, reported the United Nation’s refugee agency.
Residents who managed to escape reported corpses everywhere. “We came across many dead bodies, some in groups and others by themselves in the bush. I saw dead children and women,” Ibrahim Gambo, a 25-year-old truck driver, told Nigeria’s Premium Times.
Yanaye Grema, 38, a fisherman, said: “The gunmen pursued fleeing residents into the bush, shooting them dead,” he told AFP. “For three miles, I kept stepping on dead bodies until I reached Malam Karanti village, which was also deserted and burnt. All I could hear were ceaseless gunshots, explosions, screams from people and chants of ‘Allahu Akbar’ (God is great) from the Boko Haram gunmen.”
In the continuing insecurity, it is impossible to get an exact figure of the number of casualties. Boko Haram remains in control of the town and 10 days after the attack bodies are reportedly still littering the streets.
It is not clear yet how the violence has affected Christians specifically. Fr. Patrick Tor Alumuku, Director of Social Communications of the Archdiocese of Abuja, told Fides: “I received a message from the Christians Association of Nigeria, the association of Christian churches in Nigeria, which states that in that area Boko Haram has burned down several churches and the attacks have resulted in numerous victims.”
The number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in northern Nigeria has hit the 1.5 million mark due to the ongoing insurgency of Boko Haram.
Nigeria is ranked No. 10 on the 2015 Open Doors World Watch List of the worst persecutors of Christians which was released last week. Last year a total of 2,484 Christians were martyred in Nigeria, the highest total of any country in the world.
Compiled by Jerry Dykstra. For media inquiries, contact Christine Cape at 404-545-0085 or Katie Rouse at 678-410-9575.