Kelsey Campbell on Pregnant Nigerian Woman Witnesses Boko Haram Massacre Family and Neighbors and Burn Homes and Church

A woman walks toward a house damaged by Boko Haram militants, along the Konduga-Bama road in Bama, Borno, Nigeria, August 31, 2016. | (Photo: REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde)

The massacre lasted for five hours.

Esther listened from the makeshift outhouse as she hid behind the door. “Convert or be killed!” shouted Boko Haram militants. Their commands were followed by screams, the popping of machine guns, and the smell of burning flesh and hair as they made their way through the village.

Esther, whose name I’ve changed for her safety, tried to slow her breathing, but the foul stench only made her panic rise. She’d told her children to stay put and be silent, but now she wasn’t so sure if she’d be able to sit still and wait.

She had hidden her children in their village’s graveyard, covering them with grass and leaves so the rebels wouldn’t discover them. Esther had not seen her husband since they all fled. She’d hidden in her family’s latrine, prepared to climb inside the toilet if it came to that.

As she peered wide-eyed through the slight crack in the door, she slowly caressed her growing stomach, wondering what kind of life her unborn child would have. She didn’t know if any of her family would live through this day.

Her breath caught in her chest as two men with guns approached her house. She’d already watched as they’d burned down her neighbors’ homes and their local church. The smoke still smeared the sky. Those who hadn’t been shot in their homes died in the fires.

The men spoke to one another, arguing. Slowly they pointed to the next house and walked toward it. They shot everyone inside, then burned the house down.

The spray of bullets and anguished cries echoed in Esther’s head as she continued to crouch in the outhouse. Every lengthy pause in the shooting gave her hope — but also made her entire body clench.

Finally, she summoned her courage and peered out again. It was eerily quiet; the rebels were gone. She ran to her children, gathered them up, and headed to her father’s house.

As they approached, she could see his house was still standing. But her heart dropped when she saw her brother’s home next door. It was now a blanket of ash, still smoldering.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Kelsey Campbell