Saturday, November 5, 2011
Sixty-three people killed in Nigeria Boko Haram attack
By Michael Ireland
Senior Correspondent, ASSIST News Service
DAMATURU, NIGERIA (ANS) -- The Red Cross says a series of bomb and gun attacks in the north-eastern Nigerian town of Damaturu has killed at least 63 people.
The BBC said many people are reported to have fled the town after a night of violence.
It stated the Islamist militant group Boko Haram told a newspaper it was behind the attack and that it planned to hit further government targets.
According to the BBC, a spokesman for President Goodluck Jonathan said he was "greatly disturbed" by the attack, and that his government was working hard to bring those "determined to derail peace and stability in the country to book."
A series of attacks on security forces in the nearby city of Maiduguri recently have also been blamed on Boko Haram.
Nigerian Red Cross official Ibrahim Bulama, in Damaturu, told the BBC at least 63 people had been killed there.
He said two other people had been killed in attacks elsewhere. News agencies said the nearby town of Potiskum had also been attacked.
The BBC's Jonah Fisher, in Nigeria's commercial capital, Lagos, says this attack appears to be Boko Haram's bloodiest strike to date.
People visiting morgues have reported seeing 92 bodies, the BBC correspondent said.
The BBC also reported that an unnamed local government official in Damaturu was quoted by AFP news agency as saying that hundreds of wounded people were being treated in hospital.
Witnesses said the attacks began on Friday at about 6:30 p.m. local timeand lasted for about 90 minutes. Gunmen then engaged in running battles with security forces, the BBC said.
The BBC said a Roman Catholic parish priest told its correspondent his church had been burnt down and eight other churches also attacked. He described gangs of young men roaming the streets throwing improvised bombs into the churches.
The attacks followed a triple suicide bomb attack on a military headquarters in Maiduguri, in neighboring Borno state. Military officials said the three attackers had died.
The BBC explained that Boko Haram, which means "Western education is forbidden," has launched frequent attacks on the police and government officials.
A known spokesman for the group contacted called Nigeria's Daily Trust newspaper to claim responsibility for the attacks on Maiduguri and Damaturu, the BBC reported.
"We will continue attacking federal government formations until security forces stop their excesses on our members and vulnerable civilians," the spokesman said.
In analysis of the situation, Jonah Fisher, BBC News correspondent in Lagos, says the attack on Damaturu directly contradicts the government's oft-repeated line that they are about to "solve" Nigeria's Boko Haram problem.
Fisher says that far from disappearing, Nigeria's Islamic militants appear to be evolving and gaining strength.
He stated the attack on the United Nations building in Abuja in August shocked many because it showed Boko Haram no longer regarded their enemy as being just the Nigerian security forces.
He added the attacks on Damaturu are Boko Haram's bloodiest strike to date. The main target was once again the police but the scope and power of the assault certainly does not suggest a problem that's about to go away.
Boko Haram: Timeline of terror
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