NIGERIA: Villagers bury dead nearly a week after Boko Haram attack

More than 100 bodies have been buried almost a week after a Boko Haram attack in northeast Nigeria, local leaders said Monday, but added that many more victims of the attacks had yet to be found.

Lawan Abba Kaka and John Gulla, from Attagara in Borno state, said nearly 110 people had now been interred after Islamist militant fighters stormed the village and at least three others nearby on Tuesday and Wednesday last week.

Boko Haram, which kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls from the town of Chibok in Borno in April, has in recent months stepped up its insurgency, with civilians bearing the brunt of the violence.

Ali Ndume, who represents Borno South in Nigeria’s Senate, said burials had taken place in nine villages: 42 in Attagara, 24 in Aganjara and 20 in Agapalwa.

“From what those who fled told us, there are more corpses in nearby bushes and the mountainside,” he told reporters after a meeting in the Borno state capital, Maiduguri.

“Many people that fled the communities are also trapped on the hills, as they are without food or water.”

Hundreds of people were feared dead in the attack in the Gwoza district of Borno, with some community leaders putting the death toll as high as 400 to 500, although there was no independent verification of the claim.

Peter Biye, who represents Gwoza in Nigeria’s lower chamber of parliament, last week described the bloodshed as “massive” but said exact numbers of dead were impossible to compile because the insurgents were still in the area and locals had fled.

Heavily armed gunmen were said to have killed baby boys being carried on their mothers’ backs and shot down villagers as they tried to flee.

Asabe Vilita, a Gwoza local government leader who is also Borno commissioner for commerce and investment, said 1,290 people were displaced by the violence and many had come to Maiduguri.

Three camps have since been set up and local political and religious leaders in the affected areas were working with the military to ensure that those who fled can return when it is safe.

The villages were a mix of Christian and Muslim communities and Ndume said they had longed lived peacefully together.

“They may have their disagreements but the latest attacks were perpetrated by Boko Haram. It is sad because our people were mercilessly murdered and many houses razed,” he added.

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