ABUJA, Nigeria >> Suspected Islamic militants have struck for a fourth time in three days in Nigeria, killing 20 people including a traditional ruler in attacks in the northeast, local government and security officials said Wednesday.
The unprecedented string of attacks has many questioning the role of politicians in the insurgency and the ability of Nigeria’s military to contain the 5-year-old Islamic uprising that has killed more than 1,500 people this year, compared to an estimated 3,600 between 2010 and 2012.
“Once again, the sophisticated methods of the bombers and insurgents, the audacity of their open attacks and the devastating stealth with which they operate … calls into question the strategy of the Nigerian security forces and their commitment to the fight,” The Guardian newspaper of Nigeria said in an editorial Wednesday.
“As Nigeria bleeds all over, a more heart-rending phenomenon is the politicization of the insurgency,” the independent and authoritative newspaper said. “The ruling elite seems conscienceless enough to be exploiting the crisis, in symbols and in substance.”
Just last week the emir of embattled Gwoza district had appealed to the government to “save our souls,” saying his people are being attacked daily.
By Tuesday, he was dead.
“They simply walked right into the palace of the monarch and shot him in his bedroom, and on their way out they also shot his guard before fleeing,” said politician Hyeldi Bwala.
Wednesday morning, gunmen attacked the village of Wala, in Gwoza district, and killed 18 people, according to a local government official and intelligence agent. They both spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to reporters.
The attacks come after Monday’s massive explosion at a busy bus station killed at least 175 people in Abuja, the capital, and Tuesday’s abduction of about 100 young women writing final exams at a school, also in Gwoza district.