By: Danielle L. Gwozdz
Impunity Watch News Reporter, Africa
ABUJA, Nigeria – More than 20 members of Nigerian vigilante groups have been killed by suspected Boko Haram fighters. These vigilante groups have been trying to fight back against Boko Haram in Borno, Nigeria.
The deaths occurred on two separate attacks on Sunday and Monday, residents and military officials reported. These attacks have raised doubts about whether a military offensive against this group will succeed.
The military has been encouraging people to form vigilante groups to help it track down Boko Haram fighters as it pursues an offensive, attempting to end the Islamist extremists’ four-year insurgency.
In May, President Goodluck Jonathan declared an emergency in three north-eastern states, saying the group threatened Nigeria’s existence.
Now it seems that Boko Haram is taking revenge on these people who have formed these vigilante groups and observers have stated that they believe the groups may trigger the escalation of violence.
On Sunday, men disguised in military uniforms stormed a meeting of one vigilante group in Bama and opened firing, killing 14 people. Later, at a local hospital, it was reported that another 4 people died.
“They came in military uniform and pretended to be members of the JTF,” survivor Mallam Bakura Module said of the attack in Bama, referring to a security task force. “They asked after members of the vigilante group . . . but they opened fire on members of the group as we assembled for an address, killing 14 persons and injuring 10 others.”
The second attack took place on Monday night in the Borno village of Damasak, about 125 miles away.
Attackers crept up on sleeping members of the vigilante group, The Civilian Task Force, as they slept in a guesthouse and shot them dead.
Last week, gunmen had dressed as soldiers and opened fire on worshippers leaving a mosque in the village of Dumba, killing at least 35 people.
This fighting between Nigerian forces and Boko Haram has killed more than 3,600 people since 2009. Both sides have been accused of major abuses. Boko Haram claims it is fighting for the creation of an Islamic state.
Nigeria’s 160 million population is roughly divided between a mainly Christian south and mostly Muslim north.
For more information, please visit:
BBC News – ‘Boko Haram fighters’ kill vigilantes in Borno, Nigeria – 27 August 2013
The Voice of Russia – ‘Boko Haram gunmen’ kill 20 in Nigeria – 28 August 2013
Aljazeera – Dozens dead in Nigeria attacks – 27 August 2013
Reuters – Nigerian Islamists kill 14 vigilantes in Bama raid – 26 August 2013
Yahoo! News – Two suspected Boko Haram attacks kill 24 in Nigeria – 27 August 2013