Militants strike village in Chad
It was Boko Haram's first foray into the country from neighboring Nigeria.
N'GOUBOUA, Chad - Boko Haram militants attacked N'gouboua before dawn, marking the first time the Nigerian extremist group had hit a town inside Chad.
Crying Allahu akbar, or "God is Great," into the predawn darkness, they opened fire indiscriminately and burned scores of mud-brick houses with gasoline, killing at least eight civilians and two security officers.
Nearly six years into its insurgency in Nigeria, the Islamic extremist group is now attacking villages in the other countries bordering Lake Chad - Chad, Niger, and Cameroon - and local officials say the motive is greed, not a drive to establish an Islamic caliphate.
Roughly 3,400 Nigerian refugees had been living in N'gouboua at the time of the Feb. 13 attack, and all have since been relocated further inland to a camp jointly run by the U.N. and the government of Chad, a predominantly Muslim country.
Journalists who visited N'gouboua on Thursday saw traumatized and scared residents and nearly a dozen destroyed vehicles and motorcycles in the sand-blanketed streets.
The extremists had also set the town's sole mosque ablaze.
Adam Dogo, a resident, pointed to the charred woven mats that once formed the mosque's ceiling. The call to prayer is muted now that the mosque's speaker has gone up in flames. The floor where men once prayed is covered in ash.
"What kind of Muslim sets a mosque on fire?" he asked. "The Boko Haram are against Islam."
During the attack, Dogo's son, Ndingou, fled into a house to hide along with several other children. Boko Haram militants torched their hiding spot, and it wasn't long before one of the girls burned to death beside him. Ndingou was afraid of dying or being kidnapped by the Boko Haram.
"I saw her body, and I thought there was no way out," he recalled, his ears and the soles of feet badly burned. "I thought it was the end, and I was going to die, but if they took me with them I would die too."
Chadian troops have stepped up their patrols, though this lakeside community remains vulnerable to further attacks by militants in motorboats.
Only the day before, there was another attack on a village just nine miles away. More than 200 Boko Haram militants ultimately were repelled by Chadian forces there, said local police commissioner Idriss Ibrahim. The heavily armed militants arrived in four boats with weapons including AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades he suspects were stolen from the Nigerian military.