Residents of a northeast Nigerian town said Saturday hundreds of them have fled their homes for fear of attacks by Boko Haram militants who killed 43 people this week in a nearby village.
About 400 men fled Bama on Friday to Maiduguri, the Borno state capital, 35 kilometres (22 miles) away following warnings from residents of Gombale village, where Boko Haram Islamists gathered for a planned attack on Bama, Usman Adam, one of the fleeing residents said.
“All able-bodied men, around 400 in all, have fled to Maiduguri after we received warning from Gombale residents across the river that Boko Haram were converging in the town for an impending attack on Bama,” Adam told AFP.
Adam said only men are fleeing because they are mostly the victims of Boko Haram attacks as the assailants believe that some men, recruited as members of a vigilante group (or civilian JTF – Joint Task Force), are aligned with the army.
“Boko Haram has declared war on the people and they specifically target men because of the involvement of the Civilian JTF in fighting them alongside the military,” he said.
Another resident, Ibrahim Kolo, said they took the warning seriously “given what happened in Konduga on Tuesday which we don’t want repeated in Bama”.
Heavily armed Islamist extremists in 4X4 trucks attacked a mosque, markets and government buildings in a massive assault on Konduga in the troubled state of Borno on Tuesday.
State governor Kashim Shettima said 39 people were killed in the raid, the latest in a series of attacks in Borno.
Another four people were killed Tuesday when gunmen opened fire in the village of Wajirko in Borno, the epicentre of a gruesome Islamist rebellion that has killed thousands of people across northern and central Nigeria since 2009.
Shettima told reporters at the scene on Wednesday that more than 70 percent of Konduga had been “razed to the ground”.
Another 65 people were being treated for burn and gunshot wounds, a hospital source in Maiduguri told AFP.
Bama, a major town in Borno state, has been repeatedly attacked by Boko Haram Islamists who raided military and police posts, a prison and government buildings.
Borno, along with the neighbouring states of Adamawa and Yobe were placed under a state of emergency in May last year when the military launched a major offensive aimed at crushing the Islamist uprising.
But attacks have continued in the northeast, and there have been claims President Goodluck Jonathan’s government has not done enough to stem the violence.