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article imageNigeria: Boko Haram declares war on youth in Borno and Yobe

By JohnThomas Didymus     Jun 19, 2013 in World
Boko Haram says it has launched a war against the Borno state authorities and a hunt for youths in Borno and Yobe states who recently formed vigilante groups to assist Nigerian forces identify and arrest insurgents in their local communities
A spokesman for Boko Haram, Abu Zinnira, said in a statement written in the Hausa language and emailed to journalists, that the group has now added youth in Borno and Yobe to its list of targets and will respond to arrests of its members by the youth vigilantes.
Zinnira stated in the message that Boko Haram is fighting the Nigerian state because it wants to establish Sharia law in the country.
While the Nigerian authorities have commended the youths for assisting them in the battle against Boko Haram, many observers have expressed concern about the security implications of the publicity the vigilantes received in the national media.
According to All Africa, the Boko Haram statement said: "We have established that the youth in Borno and Yobe states are now against our course. They have connived with security operatives and are actively supporting the government of Nigeria in its war against us. We have also resolved to fight back."
All Africa reports some members of the youth groups, who were not identified for security reasons, have said they will not be intimidated and that they will fight back against Boko Haram.
This Day Live reports that a representative of the youths, speaking to reporters, said: "We are tired of [Boko Haram] and we want to put an end to it. Since the soldiers don't really know who the Boko Haram members are, then we who live with them and know them have no option than to help fish them out."
A member of the group said: "We are into this to salvage our people from the Boko Haram who had killed our people, security operatives and destroyed our economy; we are not afraid of them because we are doing a just cause and God is by our side."
Another leader of the vigilantes said: "All we want is prayers from the people and their cooperation; we are working together with the JTF soldiers. We want government to assist us with more weapons like cutlasses, iron batons and axes.
"We have lost count of how many Boko Haram we have caught and handed over to the soldiers and we are going after more of them. We have caught one recently and when he was investigated, the security operatives found huge amount of money in his bank account."
The youth representative explained that the vigilante effort originated in the Hausari ward of Maiduguri, a stronghold of the militants, and spread to Gwange and Bolori.
Boko Haram reprisal attacks
In what appears fulfillment of Boko Haram's reprisal threat, suspected militants opened fire on schoolchildren in Maiduguri on Tuesday. The Punch reports that the gunmen killed nine school children.
According to an eyewitness, Ibrahim Mohammed, the gunmen entered a classroom at Ansarudeen Private School in Maiduguri at about 3 p.m. and began firing indiscriminately at students taking their final exams at the school. Mohammed said: "I saw five students sitting for the exams killed on the spot. Four others were killed as they were entering the school premises."
Several other people were reported injured in the attack.
Earlier on Sunday, gunmen killed seven school children and two teachers at a school in Damaturu.
In a separate attack on Monday, suspected Boko Haram gunmen executed 13 fishermen on the river bank in Alau, about 20 kilometers outside Maiduguri.
The Punch reports that a survivor said the gunmen appeared "from nowhere" while they were fishing on the river and proceeded to round them up.
A survivor said: "I was lucky to be left out because I am not a resident of Gwange or Hausari where the Civilian-JTF (the youth vigilante) came from."
Another witness, Inuwa Umoru, from Bulumkutu in Maiduguri, said: “We were busy fishing at Alau River when suddenly a gang of gunmen appeared from nowhere, rounded us up and asked all those who are residents of Hausari and Gwange to fall on one side. After sorting us out, they said, 'Your children brought this fate upon you; they are busy catching our members and handing them to soldiers to be killed.'"
Umoru continued: "They then shot them dead, and asked the remaining of us to run for our lives and take the message to the youth vigilante."
According to Umoru, Garba Garus, a well-known local fisherman, was among the 13 killed.
In yet another attack, gunmen attacked villagers at Kizera, in northwestern Zamfara state. killing at least 32 people, according to local police authorities.
The recent attacks confirm fears that the Nigerian military offensive against Boko Haram has failed to cripple their operational capability and that they are still capable of launching effective guerrilla offensive.
Meanwhile, according to This Day Live, the UNHCR says the military offensive in northeast Nigeria has force more than 6,000 civilians, mostly women, children and the elderly, to flee across the border to neighboring Niger.
According to the UNHCR: "They said they fled for fear of being caught in the government-led crackdown.” They refugees reported continued Nigerian airstrikes with jets and helicopter gunships along the Nigerian border with Chad, Cameroon and Niger.
The authorities in Niger have said that the influx of refugees is putting a strain on "meager local food and water resources."
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