Islamic militants opened fire on a market, killing over 300 in the northeast city of Gamburu in Nigeria this week, a local senator claims. The senator believes the attacks are from the terror group Boko Haram, which recently sparked international outrage when it took responsibility for kidnapping over 200 schoolgirls, threatening to sell them into slavery.
Nigerian Sen. Ahmed Zanna has recalled the devastating attack on Gamboru Ngala that allegedly took place Monday afternoon, when Islamic militants entered the village dressed in military uniforms and wielding rocket-propelled grenade launchers. The attackers first entered the local market where they began opening fire randomly on shoppers. They then moved to other parts of the village, successfully sacking the local police station, where 14 officers were later found dead.
Sen. Zanna told NBC News that he believes the attackers involved in Monday's siege were a part of the Boko Haram terror group, comprised of Islamic militants who have reportedly received training from al-Qaeda.
"Those who were able to run […] ran," Zanna told NBC News, adding that some people fled to neighboring Cameroon for protection, only to return days later. "They came back and they started taking the dead bodies one by one," he said. The senator added that although the death toll is currently "at or above" 300 people, it could continue to rise in the coming days as more people are recovered from buildings destroyed in the attack.
News of this most recent attack comes after Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau said in a video that he and his terror group were responsible for the kidnapping of over 200 schoolgirls from Chibok, in the Borno State, in mid-April. In the video, Shakua said he would sell the girls "in the market" because "[Allah] commands me to sell."
An additional 8 girls, ages 12 to 15, were kidnapped from the Warabe village in northeast Nigeria on Monday night, according to local police and local residents. The militants reportedly entered the village in trucks painted army color and began shooting, going door to door and kidnapping the girls.
These recent attacks reflect the growing hostility in Nigeria and have resulted in the international community demanding the Nigerian government do more to rescue the kidnapped schoolgirls. The government offered a $319,000 reward for any information on the whereabouts of the girls, promising whomever comes forward that their identity would remain anonymous.
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The Nigerian government has sought to defend itself in the wake of criticism regarding its handling of the kidnappings, as government authorities waited three weeks to publicly address the missing young women. "The President and the government (are) not taking this as easy as people all over the world think," presidential spokesman Doyin Okupe said Tuesday, according to CNN.
"We've done a lot, but we are not talking about it. We're not Americans. We're not showing people, you know, but it does not mean that we are not doing something."
The U.S. announced Tuesday that it would be offering aid to Nigeria in finding the missing girls, saying it would send military intelligence and law enforcement members into the country to help authorities find the missing girls. According to the Los Angeles Times, the U.S. team will provide intelligence but not military force in tracking down the girls' whereabouts.