Damboa (Nigeria): Gunmen believed to be Islamic militants lured Muslims with a call to prayer and gunned them down as they entered the mosque in Damboa village in the latest killings reported in an Islamic uprising in northeast Nigeria, residents and officials said.
The tactics used by Nigeria`s Boko Haram terrorist network in yesterday`s attack that killed seven residents seem to contradict the thinking of some other Islamic extremists on the continent.
Al-Shabab gunmen allowed Muslims to leave Kenya`s Westgate mall during their Sept 21 attack, acting on the realisation that the indiscriminate killing of Muslims is a strategic liability.
Survivors in Damboa told The Associated Press that almost all seven people killed were elderly men who used no watches and set the start of their day by the muezzin`s call. So they may not have realised that anything was wrong when yesterday`s call to prayer came at 4 am instead of the usual 5 am.
Kolomi Abba said the attackers first went to the muezzin and forced him to chant the prayer early, then waited for their prey in the mosque.
He spoke to an AP reporter yesterday. Communications are difficult in parts of northeast Nigeria where the military in May cut cellphone and Internet service and barred the use of satellite phones to hinder the communication lines of the extremists.
Yesterday`s attack turned Damboa`s mosque into a battleground. Soldiers protecting the village heard the cries of the men being killed and rushed to the scene. Military spokesman Capt. Aliyu Danja said the troops killed 15 attackers.
Most people would consider killing people in a mosque sacrilegious. But there have been several such atrocities carried out by militants believed to belong to the Boko Haram terrorist network that wants to overthrow the government to install an Islamic state across Nigeria Africa`s biggest oil producer and home to more than 160 million people evenly divided between Christians and Muslims.
On Aug 11, suspected militants gunned down 47 worshippers as they recited their early morning prayers at a mosque in Konduga, 90 kilometers (60 miles) from Damboa. Those gunmen firebombed 51 homes before rampaging through a nearby village where they killed another 12 civilians.
Damboa resident Abba suggested yesterday`s attack could be in retaliation for his recent formation of a youth vigilante group to fight the extremists.
Hundreds of people have been slain in recent months in northeast Nigeria in attacks that have increased despite a military state of emergency instituted on May 14 along with the deployment of thousands of troops, police officers and military intelligence agents.