On November 28th, a massacre took place in Nigeria’s terrorist-infested Borno state, leaving at least 110 dead.
Initial reports of unknown armed men on motorcycles attacking the village of Koshobe and other rural communities in the Jere local government area near Maiduguri claimed that there 43 and then 70 dead.
“Armed men on motorcycles led a brutal attack on civilian men and women who were harvesting their fields,” Edward Kallon, the UN’s humanitarian coordinator in Nigeria, said in a statement.
“At least 110 civilians were ruthlessly killed and many others were wounded in this attack,” he added, noting that several women are believed to have been kidnapped.
“The incident is the most violent direct attack against innocent civilians this year. I call for the perpetrators of this heinous and senseless act to be brought to justice,” Kallon said.
There has been no claim of responsibility for the attack, but the armed group Boko Haram and its splinter faction, the Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) have carried increasingly deadly attacks in 2020, and earlier, as well.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, who took office in 2015 promising to fix the security crisis, denounced the latest massacre.
“I condemn the killing of our hard-working farmers by terrorists in Borno state. The entire country is hurt by these senseless killings,” the president said via his spokesman.
Security analyst Sulaiman Aledeh said many in the country are growing frustrated with the authorities’ inability to contain the conflict.
“If you’ve seen [what happened to] Niger, President Mahamadou Issoufou had to sack his security chiefs when 89 soldiers were killed. So Nigerians are asking why are you keeping these people,” he said when speaking to Al Jazeera.
“The problem here has to do with the government of the day seems to be rewarding loyalty over professionalism. They [Nigerians] think by now the government should’ve tried a few good other men to get them out of this mess.”
He described people facing desperate choices.
“In one side, they stay at home they may be killed by hunger and starvation; on the other, they go out to their farmlands and risk getting killed by the insurgents,” he said.
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Bulama Bukarti, an analyst at the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, said the failure to control Boko Haram has devastated Nigeria’s economy and people’s lives.
“The security forces are obviously losing this war,” he said, saying that 2019 had been “the deadliest year” for Nigerian security forces since Boko Haram’s armed campaign started in 2009.
“About 800 security forces were killed, mostly in the first half of last year, and the Nigerian military responded by changing its strategy introducing what they called the ‘super camp strategy’ by which they withdrew soldiers from remote communities and rural areas and consolidated them in what they call ‘super camps’ in order to reduce military fatalities,” Bukarti said.
“The strategy succeeded in reducing military fatalities but the side-effect of that is that the Nigerian military has effectively surrendered control of rural Nigeria to Boko Haram fighters.
“You have Boko Haram ruling northeastern Nigeria and criminal gangs ruling the rural communities of northwestern Nigeria; this has a devastating effect on Nigeria’s economy and the future of the country entirely.”
This essentially led to the military stopping the fight in the rural areas of Nigeria, which led to attacks on civilians and frequent massacres.
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