Islamist terror sect Boko Haram killed two people, including the head teacher of a Christian primary school, in Nigeria in an attack Wednesday, according to reports from the region.
The teacher was the head of a Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN) primary school in the northeastern city of Maiduguri. Maiduguri has acted as the de facto headquarters for Boko Haram since an attack in early November killed hundreds of Christians and thousands more were forced into exile.
According to witnesses, the teacher was not the target of the attack. Gunmen opened fire on a storefront where they believed a government official to be. The teacher and another person were killed, while three were injured.
The government official, believed to be a State Security Service (SSS) officer, was not at the store.
A witness to the attack, wishing to remain anonymous, told Vanguard the terrorists specified their target to the horrified onlookers.
“I just heard them saying to people, ‘don’t run; don’t worry, we are not here for you; we have our target,’ ” the witness said. “I believe they came to hunt for one SSS man, who normally comes here to play cards with some of his friends, but they ended up killing innocent people who they thought was the SSS man.”
Officials have not confirmed that Boko Haram conducted the attack, but the indiscriminate gunfire is characteristic of the terror sect’s attacks. An explosion was also reported in nearby Gwange at the same time, elevating suspicions even higher that both attacks were premeditated and linked to Boko Haram.
The district in which the attacks occurred was thought to be safe from Boko Haram violence, as it remains one of the few remaining Christian areas. However, increased violence threatens the community.
Boko Haram has been terrorizing Nigeria for over two years. In addition to killing hundreds of people across the country in an effort to implement Shariah, or Islamic, law, Boko Haram has bombed churches, civilian areas and government buildings, including the U.N. building in the capital of Abuja.
Nigeria is split almost in half between Muslims, who occupy the north, and Christians, who occupy the south. Violence has escalated between the two groups in recent months, largely attributed to increased persecution of Christians from Boko Haram.
Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan has increased troop presence throughout Nigeria in an effort to snuff out the sect, but told foreign investors last month that Boko Haram posed only a “temporary problem.”
Since then, the United States has issued a congressional report naming Boko Haram as a threat to U.S. security.