By Michelle Faul Associated Press
LAGOS, Nigeria — Islamic militants killed hundreds of people in an attack on a border town in Nigeria’s remote northeast, escalating the country’s violent insurrection in which more than 270 schoolgirls have been kidnapped.
As many as 300 people were killed when a band of extremists attacked the town of Gamboru Ngala, on Nigeria’s border with Cameroon, according to local press reports. The attack and hundreds of casualties were confirmed Wednesday by Borno state information commissioner Mohammed Bulama who spoke to The Associated Press by telephone Wednesday. Shops and homes were set ablaze and razed in the attack, he said.
The news of the attack adds to Nigeria’s growing crisis from the Islamic extremists’ violent campaign of bombings, attacks and abductions. The militant Boko Haram rebels are holding captive 276 teenage students, after abducting them from their boarding school in Chibok, also in northeastern Borno state.
In the attack on Gamboru Ngala the militants sprayed gunfire into the crowds of people at a busy market that was open Monday night when temperatures cool in the semi-desert region, reported ThisDay newspaper.
Nigerian federal Senator Ahmed Zannah said the attack lasted about 12 hours, according to the newspaper. The insurgents set homes on fire and gunned down residents who tried to escape from the flames, reported the paper.
Zannah blamed fighters of Nigeria’s homegrown Boko Haram terrorist network that has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of 276 teenage girls and is threatening to sell them into slavery.
Boko Haram’s five-year-old Islamic uprising has claimed the lives of thousands of Muslims and Christians. More than 1,500 people have died in their attacks so far this year. The insurgents say Western influences are corrupting and they want to impose an Islamic state in Nigeria, a country of 170 million of whom half are Christian.