Death toll in northeast Nigeria attack increases to at least 142
AFPMAIDUGURI, Nigeria -- The death toll from an attack in northeastern Nigeria that saw insurgents dressed as soldiers set up checkpoints and gun down travelers on a highway has risen to at least 142, an official said Sunday.
September 23, 2013, 12:03 am TWN
“We recovered 55 bodies on Wednesday and 87 on Thursday,” Abdulaziz Kolomi, an official with the environmental protection agency in Borno state where the attack occurred, told AFP. The previous toll from the attack late Tuesday in the Benisheik area was 87.
The insurgents, suspected to be from Islamist extremist group Boko Haram, also burned scores of homes and buildings in the assault and left corpses littering the roadside.
The motivation behind the assault was not immediately clear, but Boko Haram members have repeatedly carried out revenge attacks against residents over the emergence of vigilante groups that have formed to assist the military.
Benisheik was also the scene of deadly clashes on Sept. 8 between suspected Boko Haram gunmen and vigilantes.
Residents described a gruesome assault on Tuesday, saying the attackers singled out people from Borno, while letting people from other regions pass through checkpoints.
One security source said in the wake of the attack that “they came in droves, driving about 20 pickup trucks.”
Army General Mohammed Yusuf, who briefed the state governor on the attack, said troops ran out of ammunition while combating the assault. He said the insurgents were armed with “anti-aircraft guns.”
Northeastern Nigeria has seen an outburst of violence in recent days, leaving scores of people dead and casting doubt over the effectiveness of a military assault seeking to end Boko Haram's four-year insurgency.
The insurgents say they are fighting to create an Islamic state in Nigeria's mainly Muslim north, but their aims have repeatedly shifted and much of their recent violence has targeted defenseless civilians.