4 Nigerian villages reeling after Boko Haram attack: 'We lost many people'

CNN
Wednesday, June 4, 2014 - 6:19pm

 Scores of residents in four villages in the northeastern Borno state of Nigeria, near the border with Cameroon, were killed Tuesday in Boko Haram raids, a lawmaker and residents said.

They said hundreds of homes were destroyed.

Heavily armed gunmen dressed as soldiers in all-terrain vehicles and on motorcycles attacked Goshe, Attagara, Agapalwa and Aganjara villages in Gwoza district, shooting residents and burning homes.

Villagers fled into neighboring Cameroon to escape the onslaughts, said a lawmaker from the area who serves in the Nigerian lower parliament.

"We are still trying to compile a toll of the dead as people on the ground are still counting the number of casualties," said the lawmaker.

Residents of these villages fled their homes while soldiers have deployed in the area to fight the Islamists who have taken control of at least seven villages, the lawmaker said.

On Wednesday, military jets carried out aerial bombardment on Boko Haram positions in the affected area to dislodge the insurgents, he said.

A resident of Goshe said at least 100 people were killed in the village, but there is no independent confirmation.

"They laid siege on the village and opened fire with Kalashnikovs and fired RPGs (rocket-propelled grenades), burning the entire village with its 300 homes and a few mosques," said a Goshe resident who fled to Gamboru Ngala town.

"We lost many people including vigilantes who tried to fight off the Boko Haram attackers."

At the predominately Christian village of Attagara, the insurgents set fire to homes and a church and killed dozens of residents, according to a resident who fled to Gamboru Ngala.

"It was a reprisal attack over the casualties Boko Haram suffered in the village in two previous attacks," the Attagara villager said.

On Sunday, around a dozen motorcycle-riding gunmen opened fire on a church in the village killing nine worshippers.

However, residents mobilized and pursued the attackers, killing four and arresting four others, the villager said.

Villagers had repelled a May 25 attack on the village, killing seven Boko Haram gunmen, he said.

"We believed they came on a revenge mission," he said.

Boko Haram Islamists have in recent times stepped up raids in northern Borno state near the border with Cameroon, Chad and Niger, pillaging villages, looting food stores and killing residents.

With no communication in the region because of the destruction of mobile phone towers by the insurgents, news of attacks is slow to emerge and verification of death tolls difficult to obtain. 

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