Boko Haram unrest: Nigerian militants 'kidnap 200 villagers'

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Boko Haram militants (file photo)Image source, AFP
Image caption,
Boko Haram has taken control of several towns and villages in the north-east

Militants have stormed a remote village in north-eastern Nigeria, killing at least 33 people and kidnapping about 200, a survivor has told the BBC.

He said that suspected Boko Haram militants had seized young men, women and children from Gumsuri village.

The attack happened on Sunday but news has only just emerged, after survivors reached the city of Maiduguri.

Meanwhile, Cameroon's army says it has killed 116 Nigerian militants who had attacked one of its bases, AFP reports.

The state of Borno has seen at least two militant attacks over the past few days.

Residents told the BBC that armed militants attacked the border town of Amchide on Wednesday, arriving in two vehicles with many others on foot.

They raided the market area, setting fire to shops and more than 50 houses.

No group has said it carried out either attack but officials have blamed Boko Haram militants.

More than 2,000 people have been killed in militant violence this year alone, mostly in north-eastern Nigeria, near the border with Cameroon.

Analysis: Will Ross, BBC News, Lagos

This is yet another abduction on a staggering scale - one of the worst since the Chibok girls were seized in April.

It might seem surprising that it has taken four days for news of the killings and abductions to break.

That points to just how dangerous that area of north-east Nigeria still is despite promises of a massive military deployment there.

Gumsuri is about 70km (43 miles) from Maiduguri, the state capital, but survivors had to travel hundreds of kilometres via a circuitous route to avoid areas overrun with jihadists in order to reach the city and alert people to the horrors they had witnessed.

The vigilantes in the same village had reportedly fought off Boko Haram before but this time they were overpowered.

There has been no word from the military or the government and you have to wonder whether in any other country in the world such a horrific event could take place without a single word from the authorities.

The villagers who were kidnapped on Sunday were from Gumsuri, not Bintiri, as was earlier reported by the BBC.

The survivor of the Gumsuri attack said that he returned to the village and helped bury 33 bodies after the violence.

He said he went from house-to-house to ascertain how many people were missing.

While initial reports put the number of kidnapped at 100, it was actually double that, the survivor said.

His testimony was confirmed to BBC Hausa by a local official. Neither person wanted their names published.

Meanwhile, Reuters and AFP news agencies quoted residents as saying that at least 185 people had been abducted.

'Wives and daughters' taken

A vigilante group that had protected the village from previous attacks was overpowered by the militants, AFP reported.

"After killing our youths, the insurgents have taken away our wives and daughters," a resident who fled to Maiduguri was quoted as saying.

In Cameroon, the army said vehicles from its elite battalion had been caught in an ambush on Wednesday.

"At the same time... the Amchide military base was attacked by hundreds of fighters from the sect, but the response from our defence forces was instant and appropriate," the army said, according to AFP.

One Cameroonian soldier was killed and an officer is missing, it added.

Who are Boko Haram?

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
More than 200 schoolgirls were kidnapped by the group in April
  • 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 an Islamic state
  • Thousands killed, mostly in north-eastern Nigeria - also attacked police and UN headquarters in the capital, Abuja
  • Some three million people are affected
  • Declared a terrorist group by the US in 2013

Death penalty

On Wednesday a Nigerian court martial handed down death sentences to 54 soldiers who had refused to take part in an operation last August to recapture three towns overrun by the militants.

The soldiers, who were found guilty of mutiny, had complained that they did not have the weapons needed to take on the jihadists.

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
The soldiers appeared before a court martial in Abuja

Boko Haram has been waging an insurgency since 2009 and is seeking to create an Islamic state in north-eastern Nigeria.

Attacks have increased since three states - Borno, Adamawa and Yobe - were put under emergency rule more than 18 months ago.

The kidnapping of more than 200 schoolgirls from the town of Chibok in Borno state in April sparked international outrage.

Despite military assistance from countries such as China, France, the UK and the US, the girls have not yet been rescued.

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