In the ongoing struggle between the Nigerian military and the insurgent Boko Haram forces, recent news surfaced that the Islamist extremist group killed over 160 people in Northeast Nigeria. The Nigerian Army denies those claims, which comes after the army’s claims of arresting top Boko Haram leaders also coming under question.
As reported by the Irish Independent, reports came forth that the extremists killed 151 people, drowning 140 victims in a river near the village of Kukuwa-Gari in Yobe state. Another 11 were said to be killed after being shot by the militants on August 13 according to eyewitness accounts. The Nigerian Army disputed these claims, saying the reports are not supported officially by the country’s government.
According to residents of Kukuwa-Gari in Yobe State who fled the area, most of the dead were villagers trying to flee by jumping into a nearby river. However the river was high due to recent rains and many of them died.
According to AFP, a local official put the death toll at 50 and the Director of Defense Information, Colonel Rabe Abubakar, was quoted by a local TV station saying reports of the incident were “untrue.”
Colonel Sani Kukasheka Usman, acting director army public relations told DW that media reports of the killing were false and that the gunfight was a part of a Nigerian army operation.
“What they were referring to it was the ambush by our troops in that same village against Boko Haram in which five terrorists were killed,” said Usman.
A recent AFP report puts the death toll over 160, but the Nigerian goverment refuses to back these claims up with facts. In Ondo state, an area far south of the clashes in the Northeast, officials say claims that Boko Haram leaders were arrested there were also false according to a report from the Leadership newspaper.
Locals on the ground say that they’re upset with the Nigerian government’s assertion that the village in Yobe state wasn’t attacked. Further, a group of hunters said they have been fighting the militants using inferior hunting guns but still managed to kill 14 of the rebels including a top commander.
However, the conflicting stories from Nigerian officials and those witnesses on the ground further compound efforts in getting the actual truth out.
Photo: YouTube Screencap