© 2019 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
Boko Haram Takes Over Chibok, Residents Flee
Boko Haram insurgent have taken over Chibok, the town in Borno State where more than 200 schoolgirls were kidnapped last April.
In a move that appeared to make a mockery of Nigerian government’s pledges to protect the town, Boko Haram gunmen drove into the town in pickup trucks and motorbikes on Thursday shooting indiscriminately, forcing hundreds of residents to flee into the bush.
The local vigilantes fought back in defence of their town but were soon overpowered by the attackers and also had to flee.
One of the vigilantes who tried to defend Chibok said the attackers came in two groups and could not be counted.
“After they came, they started firing so our local vigilantes started exchanging gunfire with them. All the security and the soldiers, they ran away and left us on our own, they ran away, they ran away from Chibok. They didn’t shoot at them, they just ran away. All the ammunition we had was finished, so there was no way we could attempt to hold the area,” Ali said.
Also confirming the situation, a pastor, Enoch Mark, whose daughter and niece are among the school girls being held, said “Chibok was taken by Boko Haram. They are in control.”
According to Mark, the latest attack on Chibok happened late on Thursday afternoon, with the militants destroying mobile phone communication masts with rocket-propelled grenades.
Chairman of an elders’ forum in Chibok, Pogo Bitrus, said he believed that the group had had inside information about security situation in the town.
He said the leader of a local vigilante group that protects the town had left in order to get new ammunition supplies for his men’s shotguns and was due to return Thursday, when the militants struck.
The Nigerian military is yet to release an official statement on the incident but in Washington, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters the US is closely monitoring the situation in Chibok.
“We condemn these attacks in Chibok, a community that has already suffered too much. … We remain committed to helping the government of Nigeria address the threat posed by extremist organizations,” Psaki said.