Africa

Boko Haram kills dozens in 'despicable' Nigeria attack

People stand by the wreckage of a car that has been blown up by suspected Boko Haram militants in Nigeria's troubled north-eastern city of Maiduguri on 25 March 2014 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Towns and villages in Borno state have been repeatedly attacked by militants

Dozens of people have been killed in an attack by suspected Boko Haram militants in north-eastern Nigeria, officials and witnesses say.

Gunmen rampaged through the village of Azaya Kura in the Mafa area in Borno state, killing at least 45 people.

Shettima Lawan, caretaker chairman of the local government, called it "wicked and despicable", AFP reports.

Boko Haram has taken control of a series of towns and villages in north-eastern Nigeria in recent months.

Authorities have struggled to defeat the militant Islamist group, which has been waging an insurgency in Nigeria since 2009.

New York-based Human Rights Watch says Boko Haram has killed more than 2,000 civilians already this year.

Bodies

Muhammed Gava, the leader of a vigilante fighter group, told the Associated Press that heavily armed Boko Haram militants surged through Azaya Kura in several vehicles on Wednesday.

"We counted 45 bodies at the end of the attack," village chief Mallam Bulama told AFP.

But others may have died after they fled into the bush, residents said.

The village is about 40km (25 miles) from Maiduguri, capital of Borno state.

In May 2013, President Goodluck Jonathan imposed a state of emergency in the northern states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa, vowing to crush the Islamist insurgency.

But Boko Haram, which translates as "Western education is forbidden", has stepped up attacks against civilian targets ever since the Nigerian military offensive began last year.

It frequently attacks schools and colleges, which it sees as a symbol of Western culture, and was behind the kidnapping of over 200 schoolgirls from Chibok in Borno state.

Mafa and the surrounding area has been repeatedly attacked by militants.

About 30 boys and girls were taken during a raid in October, despite government claims of a truce. At least 17 people were also killed in the assault.

Some 29 people were also killed in an attack on Mafa town in March.

Nigeria's parliament was closed on Thursday, after the police fired teargas inside the building.

Correspondents said the police were trying to stop the speaker of the lower house, Aminu Tambuwani, from entering the chamber, following his defection to the opposition last month.

Lawmakers were due to discuss whether to extend the state of emergency in the north-east.


Who are Boko Haram?

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Boko Haram militants control several towns and villages in northern Nigeria
  • Founded in 2002
  • Initially focused on opposing Western education - Boko Haram means "Western education is forbidden" in the Hausa language
  • Launched military operations in 2009 to create Islamic state
  • Thousands killed, mostly in north-eastern Nigeria - also attacked police and UN headquarters in capital, Abuja
  • Some three million people affected
  • Declared terrorist group by US in 2013

Escape from Boko Haram

Who are Boko Haram?

Profile: Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau

Will 'truce' with Boko Haram free Chibok girls?

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