Boko Haram kills 48 fish vendors in northeast Nigeria
KANO, NIGERIA // Boko Haram gunmen killed 48 fish vendors in Nigeria’s restive Borno state, near the border with Chad, the head of the fish traders association said on Sunday.
“Scores of Boko Haram fighters blocked a route linking Nigeria with Chad near the fishing village of Doron Baga on the shores of Lake Chad on Thursday and killed a group of 48 fish traders on their way to Chad to buy fish,” Abubakar Gamandi said.
He said the insurgents set up a barricade at Dogon Fili, 15 kilometres from Doron Baga, and stopped a convoy of fish vendors around midday, slaughtering some of them and drowning others in the lake.
“The Boko Haram gunmen slit the throats of some of the men and tied the hands and legs of the others before throwing them into the lake to drown,” Mr Gamandi said from Maiduguri, the Borno state capital.
Doron Baga is the base of the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF), comprising troops from Nigeria, Chad and Niger fighting the Islamist group.
The MNJTF was formed in 1998 to fight trans-border crime but its mandate was expanded to tame the Boko Haram insurgency in the volatile region.
“The attackers killed their victims silently without the use of the gun to avoid attracting attention from the multi-national troops,” Mr Gamandi said.
A military officer in Maiduguri confirmed the attack but said details were sketchy.
“We heard of the attack near Doron Baga but we don’t have any details because the area falls under the operational jurisdiction of the MNJTF,” the military officer said.
News of the attack was slow to emerge due to the destruction of mobile phone towers in the area by Boko Haram in previous attacks.
Incessant Boko Haram attacks have disrupted fishing and farming along the shore of Lake Chad, forcing fishermen from Doron Baga to abandon fishing and turn to importing dried fish from neighbouring Chad.
Mr Gamandi said the Dogon Fili route provided the safest passage for traders from Doron Baga to Chad as other routes are infested with Boko Haram gunmen who rob and kill travellers.
Last December at least seven fishermen were killed when Boko Haram Islamists attacked Doron Baga in a night raid that left many homes burnt.
In August, the Islamists raided Dogon Baga and kidnapped 97 people after killing 28 villagers.
Africa’s top oil producer is struggling to curtail a five-year insurgency, mostly in the country’s north-east with intermittent attacks reaching Abuja, the capital.
President Goodluck Jonathan said in September that Boko Haram, which means “Western education is a sin” in the Hausa language, has killed more than 13,000 people in its five-year campaign to impose Islamic law in Nigeria.
* Agence France-Presse, with additional reporting from Bloomberg
Updated: November 23, 2014 04:00 AM