Up to 20 people were killed Saturday in an attack by suspected Boko Haram on a mosque in Buni Gari, a settlement about 105km from Yobe, the capital town of Yobe State in northeast Nigeria.
“Reports say up to 20 innocent lives were lost,” Abdullahi Bego, spokesman for Yobe Governor Ibrahim Gaidam, told Anadolu Agency.
He said the gunmen had opened fire on Muslims shortly before the dawn prayer.
“This is a tragedy,” added Bego.
“The government has authorized immediate manhunt of the criminal elements that, despite all efforts to stamp out terrorism from Yobe, are bent on ruining communal peace,” said the spokesman.
“Once again, we appeal to those behind these senseless killings to desist. Enough of shedding the blood of the innocent,” he added.
Haruna Mustapha, a local farmer, said the attackers destroyed the mosque and set many other buildings ablaze.
“Our people were gunned down while trying to pray,” he told AA.
“We learnt that the terrorists did what they did because we are against their evil ideology and our young men have constituted a stumbling block to their recruitment strategy,” Mustapha said.
“They are angry that our communities have succeeded in convincing our young men that Boko Haram is in fact a conspiracy against Islam and Muslims and that their ideology is strange to the peace and common human brotherhood that Islam preaches,” he added.
Yobe, Borno and Adamawa are the three northeastern Nigeria’s states gripped by the bloody Boko Haram insurgency. A state of emergency has been in place in the three states since May.
Unlike Borno, however, Yobe hardly experiences persistent Boko Haram attacks.
But the rare attacks had been very devastating, including the killings of over 40 school children at a central government college in their sleep early this year.
More than 1000 were killed in the first three months of the year alone in the Boko Haram insurgency.