Death toll from Islamist attack in northeast Nigeria doubles to 98

February 21, 2014

BAMA, Nigeria | Gunmen from Nigeria’s Islamist Boko Haram sect killed 98 people in the northeastern town of Bama on Wednesday, residents there said after burying their folk, more than double the figure given by police a day earlier.

Gunmen stormed the town in the early hours of Wednesday, firing on a school, shooting or burning to death dozens of people and trashing the palace of a traditional ruler of one of West Africa’s oldest Islamic kingdoms.

The area of the attack was a wasteland of burnt buildings that still smelt faintly of charred flesh, according to a Reuters journalist who toured the scene with local officials.

Women and children could be seen gathering what few possessions they had from the ashen wrecks of their houses, many of them carrying them off on their heads as they trekked out to find somewhere else to shelter.

“We recovered 98 bodies that have already been buried since the attack,” Akura Satomi, a pro-government civilian militia leader responsible for security in the town, told Reuters.

That made 200 killed this week in just two attacks. The insurgents, fighting for an Islamic state in northern Nigeria and posing the main threat to Africa’s top oil producer, seem to have adopted a tactic of maximum civilian casualties.

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