Estimated 71 people have been killed in Borno State in the restless North-east of Nigeria in co-ordinated attacks by the Boko Haram Islamic terrorist group, official Nigerian Army press release says. The report said 105 prisoners including jailed terrorists were freed in the dawn raid in the Bama area of Borno State.
All Nigerian military and police installations including army barracks and police stations were sacked and burnt to the ground. Government buildings in Bama were also destroyed and set on fire according to military and eye witness reports.
There are confirmed reports that Boko Haram gunmen killed 22 police officers, 14 prison officials, two soldiers and four civilians, while 13 of the group’s own members died the spokesman for the military Joint Task Force (JTF), Sagir Musa said.
Tuesday’s raid in the remote town went on for several hours, said Musa Sagir, a military spokesman based in Maiduguri, some 70km (44 miles) from Bama.
Borno State is the headquarters of the Islamic insurgency seeking to overthrow the government of Nigeria led by a Christian from the Ijaw ethnic group.
Last week the areas around Maiduguri were devoid of military presence as the Jonathan administration sought to appease the Muslim community by scaling down counter insurgency operations. “Some of the gunmen attacked the military barracks but they were repelled. Ten of them were killed and two were arrested,” he told AFP news agency.
“But the gunmen broke into the prison, freeing 105 inmates, and killed all prison warders they could see except those who hid in a store where cooking utensils were kept,” he added.
Police and public buildings – reportedly including a magistrate’s court – were razed to the ground.
Boko Haram, as it is popularly known, has its roots in this region of Nigeria. It is fighting to overthrow the government and set up an Islamic state which ironically enjoys the support of a majority of Nigerians the only being the way they have chosen to go about it.
Late last month the military launched a raid to hunt down militants in Baga, also in Borno state, after Boko Haram militants attacked a military patrol.
Nearly 200 people died in the raid, and thousands of buildings were destroyed, leading to claims by rights groups that the military had used excessive force. As is now customary, the Nigerian army put the number killed at 37.