NEWS : Boko Haram kills 43 in Borno attack
Boko Haram militants have killed at least 43 people in a five-hour assault on the town of Gubio, Borno State, witnesses said yesterday.
The attack, which a military source said involved a convoy of about 50 Boko Haram members storming Gubio, lasted for about five hours on Saturday afternoon and ended about 9.30pm, local resident Malam Yusuf Mohammed said.
Details of such attacks often take a number of days to surface outside of the affected areas due to poor telecommunications.
Mohammed estimated that more than 400 houses had been burned by the insurgents.
“They came, shooting, threatening to kill everybody. They set fire on many houses, burnt down our peoples’ vehicles and motorcycles. We lost 43 people including two children,” Abubakar Mondama, leader of a local vigilante group, told journalists.
Military authorities are analysing some video/clips indicating that foreigners hold positions of power within the Boko Haram set-up.
They are being analysed. The clips are among those found in captured Boko Haram camps to identify the fighters and study the group’s internal dynamics, it was learnt.
The Federal Government has spoken of foreign influence within the ranks of the jihadists but lacks the evidence to back up its assertion.
“They (foreigners) carry arms and fight alongside the other terrorists,” a senior military source, who declined to be identified, said. “They are also experts and trainers.”
Reuters was not able to establish how many other foreigners were at the filmed event or what percentage of the militants’ fighting force they account for overall.
In 2012, Boko Haram was reported to be receiving training from al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), although there has been little to back up claims of foreigners at the core of the group beyond anecdotal evidence from civilians who escaped or soldiers who fought them.
The footage shows Boko Haram administering sharia judgments in front of a big crowd in a field stained with blood with a man speaking in Sudanese Arabic.
“God ordered all believers to enforce his punishments,” the man, whose face is completely covered by a white turban, says to camera. “God ordered us to cut off the hand of the thief and flog the adulterer and adulteress.”
Standing in the middle of a circle formed by the crowd and near a preacher shouting into a loudspeaker in Hausa, the man appeared to be overseeing at the gathering called to implement sharia law.
A man wearing a black turban stands next to him as he speaks in Arabic and occasionally nods in agreement while another waves the group’s black flag behind them. Turbans in this style are not typical in Nigeria’s northeast.
In other parts of the film, men and women are flogged and several have hands amputated while the crowd cheers. A man is also stoned to death after being buried up to his head in a pit.
The military says it believes the events took place in southeastern Borno state in or near the town of Gwoza, Boko Haram’s former headquarters. The distinctive Mandara mountain range can be seen in the background. There was no time stamp to indicate when the half hour of video was filmed but a shorter, edited version of the film was released after the group took over Gwoza last summer.
The military has not publicly released the footage while its analysts worked on identification and the workings of the group.
“It (footage) helps document their atrocities as evidence in the event of any trial,” a senior military source said, adding:
“To understand their pattern or mode of operation … and equipment in their possession with other information, is vital for intelligence.” Reuters was unable to independently authenticate the footage and Boko Haram could not be reached for comment. Reuters viewed four separate videos.
Reuters also saw raw footage of a video titled: “Harvest of Spies”, released in edited form in March, which copied Islamic State videos and showed the beheading of two men accused of being undercover government agents.