IGP, Mohammed Abubakar
Michael Olugbode and George Okoh
The Joint Task Force (JTF) in Borno State Tuesday disclosed that it killed 24 suspected Boko Haram members in different parts of Maiduguri metropolis on Monday night during series of encounters with its personnel.
Similarly, no fewer than 25 persons were killed and properties worth millions of naira destroyed in a renewed attack by Fulani herdsmen against residents of Yogbo in Guma Local Government Area of Benue State on Sunday. Among those killed were children and women.
THISDAY had reported that not less than 16 explosions were heard in some part of the metropolis in the daytime even as the explosions and gun battles continued into the night.
“It is terrifying,” said one resident of the Gwange area in the northeastern city of Maiduguri. “We sat up the whole night because of gunshots and explosions. Everybody is inside because it is not safe to venture out.”
Residents said the military then swarmed the area, engaging suspected Boko Haram in running gun battles through the night and into Tuesday.
“A bomb has just gone off not far from my house. I am now crouched behind my couch,” said the resident, who asked to not be named.
Another resident of the area said he and his neighbours have “been indoors since Monday evening.”
Suspected Islamists “were chased by soldiers through this neighbourhood while the explosions and shootings continued through the night,” he said, also requesting anonymity.
Last week, residents claimed as many as 30 people were killed during a rampage by soldiers after a bomb attack that left at least three troops dead in Gwange, although the military denied the allegation.
The military has not yet commented on reports of the latest violence.
Spokesman of the task force, Lt Col Sagir Musa, in a statement in Maiduguri, said the sect members attacked JTF locations in Zannari ward and Lagos Street along Gwange on Monday night leading to the confrontations.
According to him, rocket propelled grenades and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) were used by the insurgents in the attacks.
‘’The terrorists used civilian residences, homes as launching areas for the attacks at different times on Monday night, 2012. All the attacks were repelled, 24 terrorists were killed,’’ Musa said in the statement.
The JTF spokesman claimed that no civilian casualty was however recorded but added that a soldier was wounded during the attack.
According to him, one RPG purpose machine gun, seven AK 47 riffles, one FNC riffle, 24 assorted empty magazines, 950 assorted ammunition, two pistols, large quantity of assorted IEDs materials and several bows, arrows and cutlasses were recovered from the attackers.
‘’The atmosphere in Maiduguri has been normalised since the early hours of Tuesday (yesterday) as people are going about their normal businesses,’’ he added.
Musa warned residents to desist from allowing their homes to be used as launching pads for attacks on troops and civilians, saying such action would be dealt with appropriately.
An eye witness in Yogbo who said the killings occurred at about 7 am when most of the residents had gone to church, said residents’ attention were drawn to the tragedy by the cries of children being murdered by Fulani marauders who disappeared immediately after perpetrating the cruel act.
Consequently, thousands of residents have fled the village to Makurdi, the state capital, to seek refuge elsewhere. But police spokesman, Daniel Ezeala, told journalists that the force had deployed troops to the area to forestall further attacks.
This recent attack was a resurgence of previous Fulani attacks in Benue communities which had claimed thousands of lives, houses and farmlands this year. Earlier this year, governors of Benue and Nasarawa States signed a peace accord at Yelwata, a border town, to end Fulani herdsmen/Tiv farmers squabble.