ABUJA, Nigeria, Aug. 27 (UPI) -- Dozens of suspected Boko Haram militants, short of food and water, are resorting to cannibalism, a member said.
The militants, hiding out in the Magumeri forest, Borno, roughly 100 miles from Maiduguri, the state capital, have begun eating human flesh after being stranded for days with dwindling supplies of food and water, a suspected Boko Haram member has alleged.
Momodu Bukar, told journalists in Maiduguri that he fled the forest camp when it became obvious that he was going to be eaten, the Premium Times reported on Saturday. Bukar said, "I thank God that I escaped because I would have been slaughtered by now to provide meal for my colleagues at the camp."
Bukar, captured by a Youth Vigilante Group at Baga Road motor park, Maiduguri, added that the militants had been in the forest since May, when they were dislodged from Marte by Joint Task Force soldiers implementing Operation Restore Order, which followed the government of President Goodluck Jonathan declaring a State of Emergency in Nigeria's three northeastern states of Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa on May 14.
Bukar added, "Our group, consisting of about 300 well-armed combatants, headed for Magumeri on the orders of the sect leader, Abubakar Shekau, shortly before the military took over Marte Camp. We have been wandering in the forest. We have exhausted our food and water supply, and so, everybody became hungry. It all started last Monday when three of the combatants in camp died of acute hunger, and it became obvious that all of us will die if action was not taken. The leader of the group, Abu Omar, directed that a non-combatant member be slaughtered to provide meal for the rest. The meat provided meal for the combatant for just two days and another person was killed in the same manner on Wednesday. So, it became certain that I might be the next person since I am also a non-combatant member."
Boko Haram, an Islamic fundamentalist organization seeking to implement Islamic Sharia law in Nigeria, began in 2009 to mount gun and bomb attacks across Nigeria's mainly Muslim north and the capital, Abuja. Human Rights Watch estimates that since Boko Haram began its campaign more than 3,600 Nigerians have died.
Oil-rich Nigeria, Africa's leading energy exporter, has a population of 150 million roughly equally divided among Christians, in the south, and Muslims, who primarily inhabit the north of the country. Since coming to power in 2010, the Jonathan administration has made it a high priority to neutralize Boko Haram. After hundreds of Boko Haram members died during the government's military campaign, survivors have been attacking government targets in retaliation even as the Jonathan administration has continued to try and quell the movement.
On Aug. 19 militants killed 44 people died when their village in northeast Nigeria was attacked by suspected Boko Haram militants. The assault on Demba village was close to Baga town in northeast Borno state, which was a Boko Haram stronghold until military operations in mid-May following the declaration of a state of emergency pushed many militants into hiding or across the Cameroon border.