Nigerian terrorists who seized schoolgirls open fire in marketplace, massacre 300
LAGOS, Nigeria — Islamic terrorists who spurred international outrage with the kidnapping of more than 270 Nigerian schoolgirls opened fire in a busy marketplace, killing hundreds in a new spasm of violence in the country's northeast.
The attack escalates Nigeria's growing crisis from a campaign of bombings, massacres and abductions being waged by the Boko Haram terrorist network in its campaign to impose an Islamic state on Africa's most populous nation.
As many as 300 people were killed in the assault late Monday in the town of Gamboru Ngala on Nigeria's border with Cameroon. The terrorists opened fire in a marketplace bustling with shoppers taking advantage of the cooler nighttime temperatures in the semi-desert region, then rampaged through the town for 12 hours, setting houses ablaze and shooting those who tried to escape.
The attack and hundreds of casualties were confirmed by Borno state information commissioner, Mohammed Bulama.
Nigerian federal senator Ahmed Zannah blamed the terrorist network that has claimed responsibility for the April 15 kidnapping of 276 teenage girls from their boarding school in Chibok, in northeastern Borno state. The terrorists threatened to sell the young women into slavery in a video seen by the AP.
Outrage over the missing girls and the government's failure to rescue them brought angry Nigerian protesters into the streets this week in an embarrassment for the government of President Goodluck Jonathan, who had hoped to showcase the country's emergence as Africa's largest economy as it hosted the Africa meeting of the World Economic Forum.
Offers of international assistance have poured in, with the Obama administration announcing it was sending personnel and equipment to help Nigerian security forces in their search for the girls. Jonathan confirmed that he has accepted the American assistance, which the Pentagon said will help with communications, logistics and intelligence planning, but will not include any military operations.
“Their mission there is simply to assess and advise. These personnel will be experts in areas to include communications, logistics, intelligence,” said spokesman, Army Col. Steve Warren.
Britain and China announced that Nigeria has accepted their offers of help, and France said it was sending in a “specialized team” to help with search and rescue of the girls.
“In the face of such an appalling act, France, like other democratic nations, must react,” French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said. “This crime will not go unpunished.”
Boko Haram's 5-year-old Islamic uprising has claimed the lives of thousands of Muslims and Christians, including more than 1,500 people killed in attacks so far this year. The group, whose name means “Western education is sinful,” has tried to root out Western influence by targeting schools, as well as attacking churches, mosques, government buildings and security forces in the country of 170 million, divided between a predominantly Christian south and Muslim north.