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Boko Haram victim: I cried for someone to help me, but no one would come

By Faith Karimi and Vladimir Duthiers, CNN
April 23, 2014 -- Updated 1245 GMT (2045 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • "I looked around me and there was fire burning ... dead people," victim says
  • Boko Haram-related violence killed 1,500 in the first three months of this year
  • The group is known to use gunmen on motorbikes to kill

Abuja, Nigeria (CNN) -- With every attack by Islamist militants in northern Nigeria, Daniel Ayuba relives a nightmare.

Two years ago, attackers planted a bomb near a car wash in Maiduguri. The explosion shattered his leg and left 80% of his body covered in shrapnel.

It also flattened cars and motorbikes, and left an entire neighborhood smoldering.

"I looked around me and there was fire burning, houses blown up and dead people," said Ayuba, the scars still visible on most of his body. "I kept on crying, crying for someone to come help me, but no one would come."

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A video of Abubakar Shekau, who claims to be the leader of the Nigerian Islamist extremist group Boko Haram, is shown on September 25, 2013. Boko Haram is an Islamist militant group waging a campaign of violence in northern Nigeria. The group's ambitions range from the stricter enforcement of Sharia law to the total destruction of the Nigerian state and its government. Click through to see recent bloody incidents in this strife-torn West African nation: A video of Abubakar Shekau, who claims to be the leader of the Nigerian Islamist extremist group Boko Haram, is shown on September 25, 2013. Boko Haram is an Islamist militant group waging a campaign of violence in northern Nigeria. The group's ambitions range from the stricter enforcement of Sharia law to the total destruction of the Nigerian state and its government. Click through to see recent bloody incidents in this strife-torn West African nation:
Boko Haram: Nigeria's crisis
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Boko Haram: Nigeria\'s crisis Boko Haram: Nigeria's crisis

Ayuba is among a fast-growing list of Boko Haram victims. The Islamist militants have intensified their wave of terror targeting the north and beyond.

And every attack gets more brazen.

They swoop in on foot, motorcycles and car convoys. They hurl bombs and pull guns with lightening speed.

In one instance last week, they are accused of abducting girls from a school in Chibok under the cover of darkness and herding them off to unknown destinations. Of the 230 girls kidnapped, 190 are are still missing.

A few days earlier, the militants bombed a bus station, killing at least 71 people on the outskirts of the capital of Abuja.

"When I heard the news, I started crying," Ayuba said. "I said to myself, 'What's wrong with these people?'"

In Nigeria, the mass abduction of schoolgirls isn't shocking

Father ambushed, killed

In his case, the car wash bombing was not his first brush with the militants.

Years before that, members of the terror group ambushed his father, a police officer, and sprayed his car with bullets.

"When my father arrived ... they came out, one of them shot him" in the head, he said. His father died.

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The lawless Borno state, whose capital is Maiduguri, is a major hot spot for the militants. So much so, it had banned motorbikes a few years ago to prevent drive-by attacks by Boko Haram.

The group is known to use gunmen on motorbikes to kill.

Ripple effects

For nearly a year, Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states have been under a state of emergency due to the relentless assaults.

The Islamist militant group has bombed churches and mosques; kidnapped women and children; and assassinated politicians and religious leaders.

Boko Haram -- whose name means "Western education is sin" in the local Hausa language -- says it wants to impose a stricter enforcement of Sharia law.

Violence related to the group killed 1,500 in the first three months of this year alone.

As the Nigerian military battles the brutal militants, it's breaking the rules as well. Rights group accuse both sides of ruthlessness -- Boko Haram of indiscriminate attacks, and the military of extrajudicial killings.

And as the militants step up their attacks, Ayuba is just glad to be alive.

"It was God that saved me. He kept me alive on purpose, and I ask God every day to relieve that purpose to me," he said.

He walks away with a limp, his scars a symbol of an insurgency that will not be forgotten.

READ: Opinion: In Nigeria, the mass abduction of schoolgirls isn't shocking

READ: Boko Haram: A bloody insurgency, a growing challenge

CNN's Vladimir Duthiers reported from Abuja, and CNN's Faith Karimi reported and wrote from Atlanta. CNN's Holly Yan contributed to this report.

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