Tuesday, December 8, 2015 9:46 pm
Boko Haram gunmen have torched almost an entire village near the northeast Nigerian town of Chibok from where over 219 schoolgirls were kidnapped, a resident who fled and a local elder said Tuesday.
The raid in Takulashi village happened on Sunday and saw the Islamists loot food supplies, two days after fighters stole more than 200 cattle from the same location.
Recent months have seen a reduction in such hit-and-run raids in rural northeast Nigeria, in an indication the rebels’ ability to strike has been reduced by an army counter-offensive.
Information minister Lai Mohammed maintained on Tuesday the military was still on track to meet a year-end deadline to end the six-year insurgency.
“I can assure you that by the end of this month, our military would have so much decimated the capacity of Boko Haram that they would not be able to pose the kind of threat they used to pose,” he told reporters.
He added: “What the government seeks to achieve and which it will achieve is that by the end of this month… Boko Haram will not be in a position to hold any territory and say, we are operating from this territory.”
But sporadic raids still occur and there is concern about an increase in suicide and bomb attacks, both in Nigeria and in neighbouring countries, which have made security analysts doubt the target will be met.
In Takulashi, a group of insurgents on bicycles and on foot invaded the farming and herding community at about 6:00 am (0500 GMT) on Sunday, shooting indiscriminately and setting fire to homes.
“They burnt more than 100 homes in the village. Only five houses were spared the inferno,” said a resident who gave his name as David, after fleeing to the nearby town of Askira Uba.
The attackers loaded food supplies onto four vehicles they took from the village and burnt four more they were unable to take with them.
The rest of the supplies were set on fire. “We will have to wait till everybody is back to know if there were any fatalities in the attack,” Ayuba Chibok, a community leader in Chibok, told AFP.
“We are making contacts with the residents who fled to locations where there is a phone network.
“We thought the worst had happened after Boko Haram rustled over 200 cattle in the village on Friday.”