At least 125 people were killed in an attack on a market in a Nigerian village near the Cameroon border. The violence is suspected to be the work of Islamist extremist group Boko Haram, which has also claimed responsibility for abducting more than 250 girls from a school last month.
CNN says that the attack targeted “an area that troops had been using as a base in the search” for the kidnapped girls.
The attack on the village of Gamboru Ngala occurred Monday, but it wasn’t widely reported until days later. A resident says soldiers kept the area cordoned off for days. The reported death toll has varied widely, with local and international media reporting that anywhere from 125 people to more than 300 were killed.
NPR’s Ofeibea Quist-Arcton filed this report for our Newscast unit:
“A senator for Nigeria’s beleaguered northeastern Borno state confirmed the attack on Gamboru, saying gunmen shouting, ‘God is great,’ drove in a convoy to the remote area, near neighboring Cameroon.
“Ahmed Zanna says that during the rampage, the assailants killed residents, razed dozens of buildings, burned vehicles and stole food and motorcycles.”
Reuters spoke to a resident who survived the ordeal and witnessed its horrible aftermath:
“Talatu Sulel… said she survived by hiding at home with her children. Afterwards, she went out with the police team to see the devastation.
” ‘I counted 85 dead before I lost interest in counting. This is horrible, ‘ she told Reuters by telephone. ‘They burned vehicles, cars and 17 trailers loaded with cows and grains in the market.’ ”
The state of Borno is also home to Chibok, where hundreds of girls were taken by Boko Haram gunmen more than three weeks ago. The group’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, released a video this week saying he planned to sell the girls.
The mass abduction, and the government’s response to it, has sparked protests. Other nations, such as the U.S., Britain, and France, have offered their help in the search for the girls.
As Ofeibea reports, “Nigerian police are offering a $300,000 reward to anyone helping to locate and rescue the students. More girls were kidnapped in a separate raid this week.”