•Sect kills 20 in attack
Dozens of women who were forced to marry Boko Haram fighters were killed by their “husbands” before a battle with troops in Bama, Borno State, witnesses said yesterday.
Five witnesses who recounted the massacres to French News Agency AFP said the Islamist militants feared they would be killed by advancing soldiers or separated from their wives when they fled the town.
They killed the women to prevent them from subsequently marrying soldiers or other so-called non-believers, they added.
“The terrorists said they will not allow their wives to be married to infidels,” said Sharifatu Bakura, 39, a mother of three.
According to Bakura’s account, which was supported by others, Boko Haram fighters received word of a military assault on Bama, formerly an Islamist stronghold.
The insurgents had decided to flee to the nearby town of Gwoza before the troops’ arrival but first decided “to kill their wives so that nobody will remarry them”, she said.
Bukara’s husband was killed by the insurgents four months ago but she was spared from a forced marriage because she was visibly pregnant.
Boko Haram forcibly married scores of women in Bama after seizing it in September. Nigeria’s military announced the recapture of the town on Monday.
Witnesses who were taken under military protection to Borno’s capital Maiduguri, 73 kilometres (45 miles) away, said the killing of women began 10 days before Bama was liberated.
The Islamists said “if they kill their wives, they would remain pious until both of them meet again in heaven, where they would re-unite”, said Salma Mahmud, another witness.
A vigilante who fought alongside the military in the battle to retake Bama, Abba Kassim, said he saw “dozens of women corpses” in the town.
While other witnesses reportedly a similarly high casualty figure the numbers were impossible to verify.
Fanna Aisami, 52, also in Maiduguri after escaping Bama this week, said the executions followed a warning from Boko Haram’s top commander in the town.
“He informed them of the situation and ýthe consequence of the takeover of the town by the advancing troops.
“He warned them that when soldiers killed them they would take their wives back to the society where they would be forced to marry and live with infidels,” the mother of seven said, speaking by phone to AFP in Kano.
The commander “said it would be better for them to kill their wives and send them to heaven,” Aisami added.
A number of women were shot dead in front of the commander’s house, she further said.
Yagana Mairambe, 58, reported similar details but told AFP that “some Boko Haram men refused” and fled with their wives towards neighbouring Yobe state.
Boko Haram insurgents killed at least 20 people in an attack Thursday on the Borno State town of Gamboru Ngala, bordering Cameroon.
The raid happened after Chadian forces moved out of the town, leaving it vulnerable to a reprisal attack, Hassan Ibrahim, a member of a militia group that fights alongside government forces, said by phone from Borno state’s capital, Maiduguri. Many residents fled into Cameroon and Chad, he said.
In Kano, police foiled armed attack and bombing at a bus station yesterday.
An attacker with a gun and bombs in a bag was intercepted as he tried to enter a bus station in Kano and was beaten by a mob that formed before the arrival of the police, Magaji Musa Majia, a police spokesman in the city, told reporters.
“We have taken him to the hospital,” he said.
A witness, Shehu Algoni, told told our correspondent in Maiduguri on telephone that the insurgents invaded the town at about 4.00am on Wednesday night in large numbers and spread to neighboring communities slaughtering innocent villagers and setting houses ablaze.
“We heard them shouting Alllahu Alkabar with heavy shooting in different directions People started running up and down for safety. Some fled back to the Cameroon Republic villages and towns that they earlier took refuge while others met their untimely death because the insurgents were just shooting anyhow at people chasing people away and even setting houses and shops on fire again as they did in the past,” Al Goni informed.
He blamed the absence of the military in the area.
“Anti Aircraft guns mounted on some Hilux vehicles, with large number of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and locally made petrol bombs invaded the communities and wrecked havoc, before Camerounian troops responded gallantly and engaged them in exchange of fire since morning till this afternoon. We have also fled to Fatakol and hearing exchange of gunshots still from the town indicating that the Cameroon troops are engaging the Boko haram insurgents,” Al Goni said
Hassan Ibi a livestock trader, said he was nearly caught up in the attack as he left the town the previous day before the attack on Wednesday night.
“I was there on Tuesday and returned to Fotokol in the afternoon. We started hearing gunshots again at about 5pm and it continued for a long time. Some Cameroon soldiers at Fotokol told us Boko Haram has returned to Gamboru though they pursued them. There was a gun battle with some Cameroon soldiers but some of the Boko Haram may still be in Gamboru now. “