Nigeria: Dozens Killed in Cattle Raid

May 3, 2012 Updated: May 4, 2012

More than 34 people were killed in an attack on a cattle market in the northeastern Nigerian town of Potiskum on Wednesday night, according to media reports. 

“A group of gunmen armed with around 20 explosives and assault rifles attacked the Potiskum cattle market,” police spokesperson Toyin Gbadegesin told AFP, elaborating on the incident.

The market in the city, located in Yobe state, was also set on fire and burned to the ground, according to the news agency. 

Earlier in the day, there was a smaller attack and one of the assailants, suspected of being a member of the militant Islamist sect Boko Haram, was caught and set on fire, The Guardian reported. “One of the gunmen was caught and burned to death using a tire and oil. People said the men were Boko Haram but there is a lot of anger and everybody is so scared these days,” Abdul Aziz, a market moneychanger, told AFP.

After this, a larger group of gunmen surrounded the market and opened fire, turning it into “a large scale attack—about 30 people were killed and the same number were injured,” Aziz added.

Gbadegesin said the gunmen threw explosives and indiscriminately shot at people in the market. Livestock, cattle dealers, and numerous people were shot.

The death toll in the attack, he said, is most likely much higher than 34 because families of those killed did not take the bodies to hospitals and could not be counted.

Boko Haram, which means “Western education is sin,” has been blamed for a number of deadly in the past several days, including one on Bayero university in the northern city of Kano that killed at least 20. The group has claimed responsibility for attacks that have killed hundreds since the start of the year.

Chad’s president, Idriss Deby, on Wednesday said that the regional governing bloc, ECOWAS, should create a regional force to take down Boko Haram.

Ricardo René Larémont, of Binghamton University’s Political Science Department, said the task force could be useful containing the sect, but “mediation is needed at the first stage to address the grievances that Boko Haram has,” he said in an e-mail. 

“If they [Boko Haram] increase their military capacity, they will eventually pose a threat to neighboring countries, given their objectives,” he added.