Scores killed in Boko Haram attack on Maiduguri

Shettimaa

It was a bloody Sunday yesterday in three Northeast states of Borno, Gombe and Yobe where Boko Haram continued violent campaign.

The sect’s fighters staged a ferocious attack on Maiduguri, the beleaguered Borno State capital for the second time in one week.

They did not only fail in the doomed mission launched on three fronts, but lost hundreds of their fighters, according to security and other sources, before beating a retreat.

A combination of troops and Civlian Joint Task Force (JTF) members dealt a huge blow on the sect.

In Yobe, an explosion in the commercial town of Potiskum left eight people dead. Five were killed in twin bombs in Gombe, the Gombe State capital, where the sect has also been operating in recent months.

The coordinated attack on Maiduguri – home to about 1.2 million people – was launched from Dalwa Damboa axis and from the Mafa entry point.

Many displaced residents from the other parts of the state are also taking refuge in the city.

Last week’s attack by the sect was initiated from the Damaturu-Jimtilo axis.

Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima praised the military and the civilian JTF boys for standing up promptly to defend the city. The Special Anti-robbery squad of the police also joined in the battle, which raged for hours on the outskirts of the city, residents said.

“Fighting has been going on since 3 a.m. as Boko Haram battled soldiers and vigilantes,” said resident Mahmud Kyari. “Explosions and gunfire are all we hear,” he added.

The militants launched bomb and gun attacks from three points outside the city, but met stiff resistance from troops and vigilantes, residents said.

Government officials said fighter jets were pounding the insurgents.

“Boko Haram gunmen have been routed and are on the run,” said Sadiq Balarabe, another resident.

The militants continued their attempt to enter the city from other areas after they were crushed in Mulai.

Fearful residents could not leave their houses to begin their activities for the day.

A resident of Maiduguri, Malam Illya Fanami, said he feared the exchange of Rocket Propelled Gun launchers in the fight, which put many residents at high risk.

Abdullahi Sani from Damboa Road where the fight was fierce said an RPG dropped on his neighbour’s home, killing the head of the family and his two sons.

A 70-year-old man, his granddaughter and another girl were also killed in Zannari.

A resident said a bomb hit the old man  who was  seated in front of his home with his animal when the missile  struck  the tree they sat under killing him, his three-year-old grand daughter and her friend. His ram also died.

A resident of the area who identified himself as Idris Abubakar  Molai  said soldiers advised  us to “leave the area for them and the terrorists and immediately, we started hearing heavy exchange of fire and loud explosions. It was a fierce battle. I think the soldiers took good positions and took advantage of the terrorists.”

He said many insurgents were killed.

He said: “Many were killed, including insurgents and some civilians. Two artillery, vehicles, motorcycles and others were recovered. Many people have also fled the area except a few of us who are assisting security operatives.”

A member of Civilian JTF, Shettima Kakuwa, who took part in the operation, told our correspondent on telephone. “As I am talking to you, we have just come back from Dalia village in pursuit of the fleeing terrorists. We killed a lot of them, while two artillery vehicles, motorcycles  and many arms and ammunition were recovered”.

“One of the insurgents who hid on the fence of  Molai General Hospital was aiming at soldiers. Residents of the area took him by surprise, came behind the fence and brought him down. Our boys quickly went there and killed him.”

Another member of the Civilian JTF recounted how the insurgents were repelled  at Mailai village on the Maiduguri-Damboa  road as they were moving towards  Dala Abuja Zannari.

He said: “It was a hectic operation.  The  military  engaged  the terrorists  in a gun battle.  The insurgents started shooting Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPGs). The soldiers asked us to be crawling.  Before we knew it, four of our members had been killed.”

Mallam Isa Gusau, Shettima’s media aide quoted the governor as saying: “I received with gratitude, information on how youths from different parts of Borno State, comprising those under the Borno Youths Empowerment Scheme, otherwise called ‘Civilian JTF’, vigilantes and other residents of Maiduguri, came out of their homes, abandon their families and, with very uncommon courage, they sacrificed their lives and moved to front lines to support our gallant armed forces in a patriotic battle to defend the soul of Borno State and its people from being seized by determined insurgents … early hours of Sunday.

“Our armed forces and youth volunteers have proved their worthiness and selflessness. We will, as government, continue to afford them all the they need within the limits of resources at our disposal. Reclaiming captured territories and safeguarding others that are free as well as safeguarding lives and property constitute our fundamental priorities as government.”

“Residents should cooperate with armed forces and always regard them as partners that put their lives on the line so we all can be alive. I am confident that the Borno’s sun will shine again and very soon. We have many years of resilient history. We will overcome this problems insha Allah.”

Bishop of Maiduguri Diocese Most Rev. Dr.Oliver Doeme Dashe, described the attack as unfortunate.

A statement signed by Fr. Gideon Obasogie, the Director of Catholic Communication Maiduguri, described the  fight as a “A culture of savagery and blood bath”

”Christians in the capital city are really paying the prize for their faith. This is the second Sunday when we have been forced either to attend Mass/ Sunday service lately or never to attend at all. We cannot even have a sound gathering on a Sunday to thank God for his love thus far and most particularly to pray for peaceful elections. The threats and distractions have become totally unbearable.

“The ferocious attempt by the unrepentant radical Islamist militants, Boko haram to overrun the capital city of Maiduguri has been very frightening. I wonder and sometimes, I think aloud when all these will stop. When will this culture of savagery and bloodletting end.   Is it that as a nation we lack the inner capacity to abate it?” the statement queried.

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