NORTHEAST NIGERIA (BP) -- Boko Haram terrorists posing as soldiers and preachers have killed hundreds of civilians since kidnapping more than 200 Christian school girls in April, amid unsubstantiated reports that 15 Nigerian military officers have been court-martialed for aiding the terrorists.
In the latest attack Wednesday (June 4), Boko Haram terrorists posing as preachers killed an estimated 45 people in Barderi village near Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State, BBC News reported. Boko Haram members told civilians they had come to preach, then opened fire on a crowd that gathered to hear, according to BBC.
Monday (June 2), Boko Haram militants dressed as soldiers and driving military-style vehicles attacked three villages in northeastern Nigeria, gunning down at least 200 civilians who gathered, the Associated Press reported. The militants claimed to be soldiers protecting civilians from impending attacks there, in Danjara, Agapalwa and Antagara villages.
Boko Haram has raided additional villages in northeastern Nigeria, which has been under near constant attack since mid-May, Morning Star News reported. Assaults on Attagara, Gwoshe, Hawul and other Gwoza villages have destroyed 36 churches, sources told Morning Star News.
"The Boko Haram Islamists have destroyed 36 churches in Gwoza area, including that of Attagara attacked on Sunday (June 1)," Morning Star News quoted Rebecca Dali, whose husband is president of the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria. "We now have only two churches that have not been affected."
Before the June attacks, Boko Haram had killed at least 470 civilians and Christians since kidnapping about 275 teenage students from a Chibok boarding school, Reuters News reported in late May.
Even though northeastern Nigeria has been under a state of emergency declared by Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan a year ago, Boko Haram has strengthened its assault, and many have accused the Jonathan administration of inefficiency in protecting civilians.
The Nigerian newspaper Leadership reported Tuesday (June 3) that at least 15 senior Nigerian military officers have been court-martialed for providing information and ammunitions to Boko Haram militants. The AP, Christianity Today and other news outlets have carried the reports, but top Nigerian officials have called the reports inaccurate.
Leadership quoted an unnamed "top security" official as its source.
"The suspects include about 10 generals and other ranks, not to talk of soldiers who have been found culpable of sabotaging our operations," Leadership quoted the official. "They are facing trial before court-martials set up by their divisions; some have been found guilty, and some are still facing trial."
News reports have circulated since 2012 that Nigerian military officials were aiding Boko Haram's efforts to enforce Sharia law in Nigeria, where an estimated 51.3 percent of the population is Christian.
In May, 2013, Lt.-Gen. Azubuiki Ihejirika, Nigerian chief of army staff at the time, said at the opening of the Army Transportation and Innovation Centre in Abuja, that Nigerian Army soldiers had been arrested for conspiring with Boko Haram.
"There are some soldiers that have been found to be posting negative comments on the Internet and some conversing with insurgents," Nigeria Today newspaper quoted Ihejirika. "I want to state that any officer or soldier caught linked one way or the other will be disciplined severely, there are no two ways about it."
In January, Jonathan replaced his entire military leadership, reportedly in an effort to strengthen its struggle against Boko Haram.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian military has said it has learned the location of some 223 schoolgirls kidnapped seven weeks ago, but has said rescuing the victims by force might endanger the girls.
Compiled by Diana Chandler, general assignment writer/editor for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention's news service. BP reports on missions, ministry and witness advanced through the Cooperative Program and on news related to Southern Baptists' concerns nationally and globally. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress
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