29 June 2014

Nigeria: Scores Feared Killed, Churches Burnt As Gunmen Attack Communities Near Chibok

Scores are feared dead after armed men attacked two communities near Chibok in Borno State early Sunday.

Gunmen stormed Kwada and Kautikari when most residents were worshipping in different Churches, witnesses and security sources said.

The Borno State police spokesperson, Gideon Jubrin, said he had been informed of the attack, but declined to give details. Mr. Jubrin said he was yet to contact the district police officer in charge of Chibok.

"My attention was brought to the incident by a reporter and we have been battling to connect with our Divisional headquarters in Chibok for details, but it seems all the communication networks are down or something," he said.

Residents said gunmen struck first in Kwada, where they attacked worshippers and set fire to at least four Churches, including COCCIN church, EYN church and Deeper Life Bible Church.

Kwada is about 10 kilometres from Chibok, where extremist Boko Haram abducted nearly 300 schoolgirls more than two months ago. Kautikari is about seven kilometres from Chibok.

A resident of Kwada, who identified himself as Mallam Yahi, told journalists that armed men attacked worshippers and burned Churches and houses in Kwada, before heading to Kautikari.

Several residents fled into the bushes to escape the attack, Mr. Yahi said.

A police officer, who lives in Chibok, confirmed that his brother was killed in the attack.

The officer, who asked not to be named as he was not authorized to speak, said he received a telephone call while he was in Church, informing him that his younger brother had been killed in Kwada.

One of the houses destroyed in Kautikari belonged to a special assistant to the Borno State governor, Baba John, a relative of the politician told PREMIUM TIMES.

Mr. John could not be immediately reached.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks, although Boko Haram is suspected.

A PREMIUM TIMES reporter who travelled to Chibok in May after the abduction of the schoolgirls, said while he was in the troubled town, suspected Boko Haram militants delivered a letter to Kautikari threatening attacks soon.

It is not clear whether the group made any demand as they are known to do with such threats.

Reports of Sunday's attack emerged as the raid was ongoing.

Panic-stricken villagers in Chibok had made distress calls to journalists and security operatives in Maiduguri calling for urgent help. It is not also clear if they received immediate assistance.

A text message sent by a resident at about 9:30 a.m. read: "Massive attack on Kautikari now. All security agencies should be notified, and call for divine help now."

An official of Department of Security Service confirmed the information to PREMIUM TIMES but asked not to be named.


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