Suspected militant Islamists belonging to Boko Haram have stormed a series of towns in Nigeria’s northeast in an apparent violation of a cease-fire the government claims it had agreed with the insurgents.
On Sunday evening, fighters drove Toyota pickup trucks into the town of Damboa, and killed about 25 people there, said two members of a self-defense militia stationed nearby. “They burned the place,” said one vigilante, who asked not to be identified for fear of reprisal attacks.
The attack came one day after suspected Boko Haram insurgents rode motorcycles into the nearby town of Shaffa and “started shooting at every possible target,” said Ayuba Ibrahim, a commander in a local self-defense militia. The attack left eight people dead, he added. The chairman of the local municipal council, Andrew Usman, also confirmed the incident.
Another attack in the town of Michika, left at least 15 people dead on Saturday.
The attacks began less than 24 hours after Nigeria’s government had announced a breakthrough truce with Boko Haram lasting one week while the sides held talks in Chad. Those talks were meant to serve as a confidence boosting measure, government spokesman Mike Omeri had said. The agreement also included a promise by Boko Haram to return the 219 schoolgirls it has held hostage since April, among other captives, he added.
But Boko Haram is yet to comment publicly on the cease-fire. Nor has the government of Chad confirmed the talks.
On Monday, Nigerian military and government spokespeople didn’t return calls seeking comment on whether the attacks constituted a breach of any cease-fire agreement or whether negotiations would continue.
Boko Haram’s half-decade-long war with Nigeria’s secular government has left more than 14,000 people dead in the past three years alone, according to the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations.