Islamist Boko Haram militants have seized control of the northeast
Nigerian town of Mubi, killing dozens of people and forcing thousands to
flee, witnesses said.
The insurgents stormed Mubi on Wednesday. Gunfire has been heard in the town ever since, witnesses told Reuters.
security source on Thursday confirmed the town had fallen to the
insurgents. Witnesses said they hoisted their black flag over the palace
of the traditional ruler.
Witnesses said the insurgents robbed
banks, burned down the main market and sacked the palace. One saw them
kill a university lecturer and his entire family — Boko Haram, whose
name means Western education is sinful, abhors secular learning.
in Nigeria’s northeast has been on the rise since the government
announced a ceasefire with the rebels nearly two weeks ago to pursue
talks in neighbouring Chad aimed at freeing more than 200 girls
kidnapped in April.
The government has blamed criminal networks
for the violence, which has undermined public confidence in both the
ceasefire and the talks. It has had no immediate comment on the
situation in Mubi.
Student Stephen Adaji said he had been hiding
in the bush since mid-morning on Wednesday when the fighting began until
a farmer helped him cross to a nearby village and he fled to the
nearest city of Yola.
“We couldn’t sleep in the bush because of
the fear Boko Haram may get us,” he said. “We were so scared, shooting
was going on throughout the night and they often shouted Allah Akbar
(God is greatest).”
A spokesman for the National Emergency
Management Agency (NEMA) in the northeast, Abdul Ibrahim, said the
agency had sent extra personnel to help manage people fleeing to Yola, a
relatively safe city that is home to the well-guarded American
University of Nigeria.
He said an attack just prior on the nearby
town of Uba had forced 4,000 people who were in a displaced persons camp
to vacate the camp and head for Yola. Several hundred also fled across
the border into Cameroun.