SUSPECTED Boko Haram militants have killed nearly 150 people in northeastern Nigerian villages, mowing down men and children while they prayed in mosques and shooting women preparing food at home, witnesses said Thursday.
Dozens of militants stormed three remote villages in the flashpoint Borno state on Wednesday evening, setting houses ablaze in the bloodiest day of attacks by the extremist group since President Muhammadu Buhari came to power in May.
Gunmen killed at least 97 people in Kukawa, the worst-affected village, a local who gave his name as Kolo and who said he had counted the bodies told AFP.
A fisherman who witnessed Wednesday’s attack corroborated the death toll.
“They wiped out the immediate family of my uncle…They killed his children, about five of them, and set his entire house ablaze,” Kolo said.
Another witness called Babami Alhaji Kolo who fled to Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state where the attack took place, said more than 50 militants stormed the village early Wednesday evening.
“The terrorists first descended on Muslim worshippers in various mosques who were observing the Maghrib prayer shortly after breaking their fast,” he said.
“They… opened fire on the worshippers who were mostly men and young children.
“They spared nobody. In fact, while some of the terrorists waited and set most of the corpses on fire, others proceeded to houses and shot indiscriminately at women who were preparing food,” he said.
The attacks come as Buhari, 72, who took office a month ago on a wave of hope that he would quickly deal with a deepening economic crisis and the Islamist insurgency in the north, has delayed naming a cabinet until September.
As the momentum of being the first opposition candidate to win power at the ballot box fades, critics are mocking him as a sluggish elderly man, or “Baba Go Slow.”
However, perhaps responding to the alarm over the upsurge in attacks by Boko Haram, Buhari Thursday appointed Lawal Daura as director general of internal security agency, the Department of State Security Service, civil service communications director Haruna Imrana said in a statement e- mailed from the capital, Abuja.
Daura, who worked at the presidential villa between 2003 and 2007, has taken charge immediately.
-Additional reporting by Bloomberg.