A NEW video from Nigeria’s home-grown Boko Haram extremists shows gunmen mowing down civilians lying face down in a dormitory, and a leader saying they are being killed because they are “infidels” – non-believers.
There are so many corpses the gunmen have difficulty stepping over them to reach bodies still twitching with life. Most appear to be adult men.
“We have made sure the floor of this hall is turned red with blood, and this is how it is going to be in all future attacks and arrests of infidels,” the group’s leader says in a message.
“From now, killing, slaughtering, destructions and bombing will be our religious duty anywhere we invade.”
The video, released to journalists at the weekend, comes two days after fleeing villagers reported that the extremists were rounding up elderly people and killing them in two schools in Gwoza, in north-east Nigeria.
The latest video appears to have been shot in a school – in a long dormitory with bunk beds which the leader says is in Bama, a town 40 miles north of Gwoza.
Students and schools are frequently targeted by Boko Haram, which translates as “western education is sinful”.
Previously, the militants had told villagers and townsfolk they would kill only enemies and wanted people to live peacefully in the area they have dubbed an Islamic caliphate – a large swath along Nigeria’s north-eastern border with Cameroon, which they have controlled for more than three months.
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In the video, the leader notes that the prophet Muhammad advised that prisoners should be held, not killed, but he adds: “We felt this is not the right time for us to keep prisoner – that is why we will continue to see that the grounds are crimsoned with the flowing blood of prisoners.”
He says some of those killed may call themselves Muslims, but they are considered infidels by Boko Haram, a Sunni jihadi group that imposes strict sharia law.
Boko Haram regularly carries out strikes in Cameroon and on border towns. It has also targeted a troop convoy and a major barracks.
Further north, Boko Haram uses recruits from Chad to enforce its rule in towns and cities.
In Niger, the government has declared a “humanitarian crisis” and appealed for international aid to help tens of thousands of refugees driven from their homes by the insurgency.
“We are concerned about the increasing regionalisation of Boko Haram,” Comfort Ero, Africa director for the International Crisis Group, said, adding that countries had been slow to recognise “the gravity and extent of the threat from Boko Haram.”
Ms Ero cautioned that co-operation between the neighbouring countries was weak. “None of the sides is willing to share information with the other,” Ms Ero said. “There’s always been a lack of confidence in terms of shared regional security.”
She said there was also distrust of the capabilities of Nigeria’s once-proud military, which has been battered by Boko Haram.
A court martial last week sentenced 54 soldiers to death for refusing to fight the extremists.
Boko Haram’s threat to neighbouring countries was highlighted on Wednesday, when some 5,000 insurgents launched simultaneous attacks on Cameroonian border towns.
Cameroonian troops repelled the attacks and killed 116 militants, while losing a sergeant and a lieutenant.
Fighters from Chad, Niger and Cameroon have been identified among Boko Haram fighters in Nigeria.
Thousands of people have been killed and about 1.6 million driven from their homes in the five-year insurgency.
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