Islamic Sect in Nigeria Attacks Villagers

Monday, September 27, 2004

Militants kidnap seven Christians in raids on rural communities.

by Obed Minchakpu

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria, September 27 (Compass) -- An Islamic militant group that has been terrorizing non-Muslim communities in the northern Nigerian states of Boro, Yobe, and Kebbi since the beginning of the year struck again on September 20, burning villages, killing four policemen and kidnapping seven Christians.

About 60 members of the Muslim sect known in Nigeria as the Talibans attacked police stations in the towns of Bama and Gwoza, Borno state. After retreating, the militants carried out raids on Christian communities, killing, raping and burning down houses.

Ezekiel Ibrahim, a Christian businessman from the city of Maiduguri, told Compass that the militants attacked several villages and police stations, killing people they perceive to be enemies of Islam, particularly Christians.

“Reports from some of the Christian communities affected indicate that seven Christians were taken away by the Muslim fanatics in Bama and Gwoza local government areas,” Ibrahim said.

On September 24, Nigerian police officers announced that 14 corpses had been recovered from areas targeted by the raids. More victims reportedly died in the violence, but their bodies could not be recovered due to the area’s mountainous terrain.

Police Deputy Inspector General Mike Okiro told a press conference in Maiduguri on Saturday, September 25, that some of the Muslim militants were killed in a joint operation carried out by the police and the Nigerian army.

Okiro said that five militants who escaped into the neighboring Republic of Cameroon were arrested by security forces of that country. The Nigerian government has reportedly begun negotiations with Cameroon authorities to extradite the suspects.

He also assured reporters that the search for violent fanatics will continue until all the surviving members of the militant sect are tracked down. Okiro disclosed that a number of firearms were recovered from the militants during the counterattacks against them.

Borno governor Ali Modu Sherif told journalists on September 24 that he had ordered security forces to track down the members of the Islamic group.

“We have directed soldiers to kill them on the spot,” he said. “We want to end this madness once and for all.

“We are happy the Cameroon authorities have intensified security along their side of the mountains and are ready to help arrest or kill them if they cross the border,” Sherif added.

Compass witnessed the corpses of victims of the raids and militants killed by the joint military operation being deposited in the mortuary of the Borno State Specialist Hospital in Maiduguri.

Meanwhile, police officials said they are attempting to trace the whereabouts of the seven kidnapped Christians.

The Islamic militants involved are predominantly Muslim university students and claim affiliation with the Islamic Taliban of Afghanistan.