Northern Nigerians live in fear of Boko Haram

The Nigerian army has done little to counter the advancing Islamist militia
as they head towards the northern city of Maiduguri. With soldiers deserting, residents have fled towns and villages.
Over one million people live in thecity of the northern Nigerian state of
Borno and Boko Haram fighters are moving ever closer. Gwoza, Bama, Gulak, Michika, Duhu, Shuwa, Kirshinga – the Islamists have been capturing new cities on an almost daily basis. They arrive in hijacked army vehicles, fight off the Nigerian troops and terrorize the residents. “Boko Haram are committing all kinds of atrocities killing and raping. At the same time they are taking young girls in batches and the city is littered with dead bodies,” says Ahmed Zanna, a member of the Nigieran Senate for the town of Bama says. Bama is just 70 kilometers (43.5 miles) from Maiduguri and fell to the Islamists four days ago. Zanna recounts how the soldiers who were supposed to defend Bama, refused to advance any further. “They were ill equipped and they just stayed in Kondudga.”
Maiduguri would be a major win for Boko Haram in their hope of creating
Islamist-ruled state. “Even a brief capture of Borno’s capital, will
be a significant symbolic victory for Boko Haram,” said Ryan Cummings,a South African security expert, who is also a member of the Nigerian Security Networks. Capturing Maiduguri would give Boko Haram a
very strong boost, believes the Nigerian expert Nnamdi Obasi of the
International Crisis Group. With Maiduguri, the Islamists would not
only control a major city but also an international airport. The moral of
the government troops is very low and the terrorists are better equipped.
Military officers told DW correspondent, Sheriff Alhassan: “We cannot
do anything against Boko Haram, because most of the Boko Haram are
using modern automatic weapons and the military is using AK47s.” He
is one of the few reporters, who still dares to venture into the fighting
areas. He is currently in the town of Mubi in Adamawa State, which
could also fall prey to Boko Haram. “We all live in fear,” explained a resident. “Because soldiers come into our houses, take off their uniforms
and put on civilian clothes. So if the military is already fleeing the fight,
we don’t stand a chance.” Over 10,000 flee the fighting
Thousands of people have fled the fighting. In Yola, the provincial capital
of Adamawa State, residents have taken in those who had to leave their
homes. Ten people now live in one room and a woman who goes by the
name of Aisha explains their fate: “There is nobody left in our town.
Everyone has left, because the terrorists came into our town and they
killed the people. We are desperate for help.” In Maiduguri, residents are
now also preparing to leave. “The people are scared. Many have already
left the city,” says a woman who chose to remain anonymous.
“We who remain here, hope that God will help us.”
The residents have armed themselves with sticks. They no longer
believe that the army will defend them. Thousands of young men have
now gathered in Maiduguri and are demanding that the government recognize them as local defense groups, so that they can officially support the soldiers. “There are soldiers in the city, but they are not well-armed,”
explains a DW listener, who has trouble sleeping. Even the Senator
Ahmed Zanna is unsure whether the army can defend Maiduguri: “If
Bama with an army of 1,000 can fall within three to five hours, then there
is every likelihood that these people will advance towards Maiduguri.”
In the meantime, official sources say that Bama is once again under government control and that Maiduguri is safe for now. Nevertheless, the
residents remain skeptical.
Source: dw:de

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Posted by on Sep 16 2014. Filed under African News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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