Boko Haram fighters kill dozens at funeral in Nigeria

Local official says extremists’ attack on mourners has left more than 60 people dead

More than 60 mourners leaving a funeral in north-east Nigeria have been killed by the militant group Boko Haram, according to Nigerian officials and other sources in the area.

Ten years after the group’s founder, Mohammed Yusuf, was murdered in police custody after a crackdown on his followers, Boko Haram’s factions are continuing to wage a bloody insurgency against the Nigerian security forces and civilians, defying government attempts to destroy the group.

In the latest attack, a number of men were walking back to their village after the funeral prayers for a relative when armed men turned up on motorcycles and opened fire, said the head of the Borno Hunters Association, Bunu Bukar. The village is to the north of Maiduguri, Borno’s state capital, in the area of Nganzai.

More than 60 mourners leaving a funeral in north-east Nigeria have been killed by the militant group Boko Haram, according to Nigerian officials and other sources in the area.

Ten years after the group’s founder, Mohammed Yusuf, was murdered in police custody after a crackdown on his followers, Boko Haram’s factions are continuing to wage a bloody insurgency against the Nigerian security forces and civilians, defying government attempts to destroy the group.

In the latest attack, a number of men were walking back to their village after the funeral prayers for a relative when armed men turned up on motorcycles and opened fire, said the head of the Borno Hunters Association, Bunu Bukar. The village is to the north of Maiduguri, Borno’s state capital, in the area of Nganzai.

With the help of local vigilantes, the villagers resisted the attack, killed 11 insurgents and recovered 10 AK-47 rifles, he said.

Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari, who was re-elected this year, has repeatedly vowed to “decimate” Boko Haram. However, the number of attacks have increased in recent months, leaving millions of displaced people dependent on aid that is rarely sufficient.

Less than two weeks ago, several humanitarian workers were abducted when armed men attacked their convoy near Damasak, close to the border with Niger.

One, an employee of Action Against Hunger, a major international NGO, pleaded for her release in a video shared with the prominent Nigerian journalist Ahmad Salkida.

“We are Nigerians; we are also working for Nigeria. I beg that the Nigerian government should please do something to see that we are released,” said the woman, who said her name was Grace.

She named previous kidnap victims, and mentioned Leah Sharibu, the only girl not released after the Dapchi kidnapping early last year, a Christian who refused to renounce her faith. Nigerian authorities have said they were negotiating for her release, but Grace said Sharibu had been killed.

“This has occurred before in the organisation Red Cross, where some ladies were caught – Hauwa [Mohammed Liman] and Saifura [Hussaini Ahmed Khorsa],” she said, sitting on the ground with other, male abductees against a backdrop of United Nations high commissioner for refugees-branded tarpaulins.

“They also asked to be released but because Nigeria did not do anything about it they were killed. I’m begging on behalf of all of us here that please Nigeria should not allow such [a thing] to happen to us. It also happened again with Leah [Sharibu] and Alice [Loksha] because Nigeria could not do anything about them, they were not released, they were killed.”

It is not clear, however, that the faction that abducted Sharibu is the same group that carried out these latest abductions, and several Nigeria watchers said Sharibu’s death was not confirmed.

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