Boko Haram confirms slaughtering 6 “traitors”, threatens more “executions” in Maiduguri, Borno State
On 2 February, a spokesman for the militant Islamist sect, Boko Haram, confirmed that it was his group that killed the six men slaughtered on the night of Wednesday 1 February, in Maiduguri, capital of Borno State.
The six men were killed in the Shehuri north area of the city, by assailants who trailed them to their houses around midnight and slaughtered them with knives. In a statement following the killings, the spokesman of the military Joint Task Force (JTF), Lt Col Hassan Mohammed, had said preliminary investigations revealed the men were “slaughtered by persons suspected to be their fellow sect members”. He had also suggested that the killings “may have been as a result of division among sect members”.
In a telephone interview with some journalists in Maiduguri, the Boko Haram spokesman who identified himself as Abul Qaqa, confirmed the JTF’s revelation. He said the six men were slaughtered because they were among the traitors who betrayed 11 members of the sect, leading to their elimination by JTF four days earlier.
He further disclosed that the six men slaughtered were only part of a longer list of persons whom the group plans to eliminate. He said: “We have earmarked 30 of them for execution because they betrayed our group”.
It will be recalled that on 28 January, 11 members of Boko Haram were killed by JTF in Maiduguri. In the wake of those killings, the victims’ families had claimed that the men killed were not members of the militant sect, alleging human rights violations and demanding a probe.
The confirmation by the Boko Haram spokesman seems to have put paid to those denials and demands. It also seems to confirm the JTF’s suspicion of a feud within some members of the sect. It thus raises fears of further factional killings within the group in Maiduguri.
On 30 December, three explosions were reported in Maiduguri, capital of Borno State, but military authorities said no one was killed.
Initial reports had said that one of the explosions occurred near a mosque after the Friday afternoon prayers and set off a massive stampede, and that about four people may have been killed.
BBC had quoted the Director of Army Public Relations, Maj Gen Raphael Isa, as confirming there had been a “major incident” which had caused casualties.
However, the spokesman of the military Joint Task Force in the state, Lt Col Hassan Mohammed, while confirming the blasts to newsmen, said none of them occurred near a mosque. He said the explosions occurred near market areas in different parts of the city but that no one was killed.
The explosions occurred only five days after the Christmas Day bomb attacks on churches in Madalla, a town in Niger State close to the federal capital, Abuja, and also in Jos, capital of Plateau State. Those attacks killed at least 42 people, mostly Christian worshippers at the St Theresa’s Catholic church in Madalla. The government blamed the attacks on the militant Islamist group, Boko Haram; a spokesman for the group also reportedly claimed responsibility.
About 24 hours before the latest blast, the group had emailed a statement to some media houses saying: “If God is willing, we will carry out further attacks”.
On 17 December, three men suspected to be members of the militant Islamist sect commonly known as Boko Haram, were killed in an explosion inside a bomb factory in Maiduguri, capital of Borno State.
Briefing newsmen on the incident, the spokesman of the military Joint Task Force (JTF), Lt Col Hassan Mohammed reported that at about 9 am, an explosion occurred in Shehuri II area of Bolori in Maiduguri metropolis. He said JTF operatives rushed to the scene of the blast and found that it occurred in a house inhabited by unidentified men, suspected to be members of Boko Haram. They also found three mangled corpses at the scene.
Hassan said the area was immediately cordoned off while the Police Bomb Disposal Squad was called in for detailed investigations. He said the investigators confirmed that the house was being used by suspected members of Boko Haram as a major factory for the production of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).
He further stated that large quantities of unused IED-making materials, including three drums containing gun powder, two AK-47 riffles, ammunition, remote controls, uniforms of the Police Mobile Force with ranks, injecting syringes, Jerry cans loaded with gas, one grinding machine, assorted containers of gun powder, tapes with Islamic inscriptions, laptop, video camera, GSM handsets, wall clocks and several prepared IEDs.
On 15 December, a bomb exploded in Gwange area of Maiduguri, Borno State, just as gunmen suspected to be members of the militant Islamist sect, Boko Haram, killed two people and injured three on Santimari Polo Road.
According to the spokesman of the military Joint Task Force (JTF), Lt Col Hassan Mohammed, some members of Boko Haram detonated an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) in Gwange ward at about 7.45pm. He said the men had targeted a JTF patrol vehicle, but that the vehicle had left the area by the time the device went off and that there was no casualty.
In the shooting incident, residents said at about 8pm, some gunmen came in an unmarked Volkswagen Golf car and opened fire on people playing cards in front of a shop owned by a GSM recharge card dealer.
One witness said he heard the gunmen saying to people: ‘Don’t run, don’t worry, we are not here for you. We have our target’. They shot two men to death, including the Head Teacher of COCIN Church Primary School in Polo. One report suggests they may have been targeting a security officer who usually comes to the shop, especially at night.
Col Hassan confirmed the incident. He said JTF men pursued two of the suspects who then abandoned their car and fled into the night. He said no arrest had been made, but that normalcy had been restored to the area.
Details of the clash are still sketchy and reports of casualty figures vary significantly. However, trouble reportedly started on Friday evening when some gunmen shot and killed a soldier at the Tashar Gandu area of the town. The soldiers thereafter conducted an operation in pursuit of the killers.
The spokesman of the military Joint Task Force, Lt Col Hassan Mohammed, confirmed that three persons were killed, all civilians, and others wounded. Among those killed was Mallam Kankaki Shani, driver of the Deputy Speaker of the Borno State House of Assembly (Hon. Danlami Kubo) who was hit by a stray bullet on his way to Gombe State International Airport, where he was to pick up his boss returning from this year’s lesser Hajj in Saudi Arabia.
The army spokesman said the gunmen were not members of the militant Islamist group, Boko Haram, which had been responsible for much of the violence in the region in recent months. He said they were “armed miscreants” from the area, who attacked soldiers with “no justifiable cause”.
However, Ibrahim Farinloye, spokesman for the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), offered a somewhat different account of the incident. He told the news agency, AFP, that: “Soldiers trooped out of the barracks into town last night and shot residents indiscriminately and set shops on fire, following the shooting of their colleague by unknown gunmen, resulting in at least two deaths with several people injured”. He reportedly added that: “The town has been sealed. No one is let in or out”. He said the casualty figure could be much higher.
Residents also said more people may have been killed in the shootings. One source reported at least seven people killed, over 10 seriously injured, two churches – Living Faith Church and Wisdom Chapel – burnt down, along with several shops. They also reported the streets deserted, except for military vehicles patrolling the town.
However, by Saturday evening, the Army spokesman reported that the situation had been brought under control, and advised law-abiding citizens to go about their normal businesses. He said security agencies are working round the clock to restore law and order fully in the town.
This is the second clash between armed men and soldiers in Biu in under one month. An earlier clash had occurred on 10 August, after security operatives arrested five teachers in an Islamic school, on suspicion that they were members of Boko Haram.
Protesting the arrests, about 150 of their students and other local youth went on rampage, burning a government building and a Catholic church and also attacking security personnel in the area. As soldiers dispersed them, one woman was killed, while another was wounded. Military investigators later reported that the bullet that killed the woman was not among the kinds used by the Nigerian Army. Defence Minister Bello Halliru subsequently ordered an inquiry into the incident, but the outcome is not yet known.
[This is an updated version of our first report on the incident].
On 26 July, a shoot-out between the militant Islamist group widely known as Boko Haram, and the military Joint Task Force (JTF) deployed to quell the group’s serial violence, left at least one person dead in the Gomari Custain area of Maiduguri, Borno State. JTF said the victim was a suspected Boko Haram operative.
According to the spokesman of the JTF, Lt Col Hassan Mohammed, the shoot-out erupted after two suspected members of the group, who were driving into the London Ciki area in a Honda Civic car (Reg. No. AG 66 GWL), sighted two JTF patrol vehicles.
Mohammed said: “On sighting our patrol vehicles, the driver of the Honda tried to come out and one of our men sighted a rifle beneath his flowing gown. The soldier then shouted ‘Armed robber!’- he did not say ‘Boko Haram’ – but on hearing that, the man in the Honda Civic car corked his rifle and started firing indiscriminately”. The JTF spokesman said it was while the soldiers were trying to incapacitate him, that the suspect was killed.
Col Mohammed said the second man in the Honda car was caught by JTF men, but that he bolted while being questioned. “He was arrested by the military but during interrogation, he fled and our men pursued him, but he disappeared and escaped”, he said.
Mohammed stressed that: “The JTF does not aim at killing suspected Boko Haram members. Our aim is to incapacitate them and hand them over to the police for prosecution”.
The JTF spokesman said items recovered from the suspects’ car included an AK-47 rifle, the driver’s license of the slain man bearing the name Baba Gana, a fake vehicle registration certificate and some N1000 notes.
On 23 July, a bomb exploded, wounding at least three soldiers, in Maiduguri, capital of Borno State.
The spokesman of the military Joint Task Force (JTF), Lt Col Hassan Mohammed, said the explosion occurred close to the palace of the Shehu of Borno, the pre-eminent traditional ruler in Borno State.
However, he said the Shehu’s palace was not the target as the attackers aimed the “improvised explosive device” at a military patrol team stationed near Budum market.
The JTF spokesman said three soldiers were injured. Another source, citing the staff of an unnamed local hospital, reported that at least one body from the blast site had been brought to the hospital’s mortuary, but this could not be confirmed.
Military authorities believe the militant Islamist sect, widely known as Boko Haram, was responsible for the attack.
On 22 July, the military Joint Task Force (JTF) in Borno State reported it had killed a suspected member of the militant Islamist sect widely known as Boko Haram, during a gun battle that followed a failed bomb attack by the sect, in Maiduguri, capital of Borno State.
Reporting on the incident, the JTF spokesman Lt. Col. Hassan Mohammed told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that, at about 6.50 pm the previous night, an explosive device was hurled at a military patrol team by some persons, suspected to be members of Boko Haram. He said the explosive missed its target and detonated without causing any casualties.
Col Mohammed said that: “While our men were observing the scene, some suspected Boko Haram militants began rapidly firing at them’’. He said the JTF men returned the fire, engaging the attackers in a gun duel.
“We were able to get one of the militants after a long crossfire, but other members of the group summoned courage and took his body away”, Mohammed said.
He stated emphatically that: “No member of the JTF was affected, either by the blast or the gun duel that followed the incident”. He however added that “Sadly, a civilian was injured during the crossfire”. He said the injured civilian was taken to the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital (UMTH) for treatment.
The JTF spokesman said a second explosion occurred at a garbage dump elsewhere in the city, but that no one was hurt. He said: “From all indications, the device exploded prematurely. We still don’t know what the target was and nobody has been arrested”.
The spokesman of the Joint Task Force (JTF), Lt Col Hassan Mohammed, said a military patrol van had been hit by an Improvised Explosive Device, but that there were no casualties and no arrests had yet been made.
Both residents and security authorities believe the explosive must have been planted by operatives of the militant Islamist group widely known as Boko Haram. The group which had been been attacking security personnel as well as critical clerics and politicians in Borno State since mid-2010, has recently been targeting military patrols with explosives, almost daily.
In spite of these blasts, Col Mohammed urged Maiduguri residents not to panic, as the JTF was effectively in control of the situation around the city and was sparing no effort to restore order and tranquility to the entire state.