Unrest In Northern Nigeria - Update

Members of the Islamic fundamentalist sect, Boko Haram,that has been causing a major religious sectarian crisis in the Northern parts of Nigeria, came under serious attack yesterday in Maiduguri, Borno State capital, as soldiers stormed their stronghold in armoured tanks in a bid to flush them out of town. Maiduguri is where we lost a VGR library that was burnt down due to religious riots a few years ago.

According to media reports, the number of casualties recorded in the attack by the sect headed by Yusuf Muhammed, a cleric, could not be ascertained last night as the fight was still raging. Unconfirmed report, however, put the death toll at 300, most of them from the side of the Islamic militants.

The attack by members of the sect, said to be opposed to Western education, had begun in Bauchi, Bauchi State capital, on Sunday and spread to Borno, Yobe and Kano States by Monday.

This military action came on the order of the Nigerian President, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua who left the country yesterday for Brazil on a three-day state visit. He spoke with journalists at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja shortly before his departure.

Meanwhile, it has been reported that several people have taken refuge at different military and police quarters during the four days of fighting. The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said over 4,000 persons have taken refuge at these different locations. An official of the agency said that relief material including food items, beddings which were ordered for these refugees have been handed over to the Borno State Government for distribution to the victims. As a result of the full military action against these militants, it is expected that the situation will soon be brought under complete control.

This morning we spoke with some of the believers in these areas and they told us that they are safe, and are doing fine. The only incidence recorded amongst them is that of a brother who lost his motor cycle to the militants when he met them, and had to escape for his dear life. Your continue prayers for the believers is highly appreciated.

Brother Andrew Alasa
VGR Office Manager in Lagos