By Michael Olugbode
Scores of people were killed in Maiduguri on Thursday night as Boko Haram unleashed eight suicide bombers on the troubled town.
Apart from the suicide bombers, the terrorist group attempted to invade the town with a small group of fighters that attempted driving in on motorcycles.
Eyewitnesses said many of the terrorists and civilians lost their lives in the attack by heavily armed Boko Haram fighters at about 11:20pm on Thursday as they attempted to storm Maiduguri through its border with Mafa.
They said some of the terrorists tried to gain access into the town after infiltrating a newly constructed Customs House where IDPs from Mafa are camped.
It was learnt that they were repelled by troops and members of the youth vigilante group, after a long drawn battle.
The district head of Anadua in Mafa Local Government Area, Zanna Lawan told journalists that scores of civilians, including all the Boko Haram fighters that carried out the attack were killed in the encounter.
He said: “Boko Haram fighters tried to storm into Maiduguri but were defeated by our gallant troops. They tried to storm into Yerwa, Maiduguri metropolis, through the newly constructed Customs House where IDPs from Ajiri and Anadua in Mafa Local government area are accommodated.
“All the dreaded Boko Haram boys were killed by our gallant soldiers, including many suicide bombers that accompanied them.”
Lawan, who spoke to journalists yesterday morning, said: “However, many civilians lost their lives as many also got serious injuries. As I am talking to you, security agencies and ambulances can be seen conveying those affected from Muna- customs camp to hospital.
Confirming the attack, the Borno state Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Victor Isuku said the incident occurred around 2318hrs on Thursday.
He said: “The resulting explosions razed over 13 pick-up trucks loaded with goods along Mafa-Maiduguri road awaiting departure to Gamboru Ngala yesterday (Thursday). Police have been deployed to return safety and normalcy there.”
The National Emergency Management Authority (NEMA), confirming the attack in a statement issued by its spokesman, Sani Datti said: “Boko Haram members attempted to attack Maiduguri. They came through Mafa-Dikwa road along Muna community.
“The driver attempted to overrun the security post where the security personnel were stationed, but few of the personnel sustained minor injuries, while the remaining bombers detonated their IED in some of the communities in Muna Dalti settlement.
“Seven Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) sustained minor injuries and were taken to University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital (UMTH).
“Some of the suicide bombers found their way to a place where people gathered with their trucks loaded with goods for onward movement to Mafa, Dikwa and Ngala local government areas.
“Over 14 loaded trucks were burnt by the suicide bombers, though no casualty was recorded. The seven corpses of the suicide bombers were evacuated to the State Specialist Hospital by NEMA and Borno SEMA team.”
On Wednesday, an Mi-17 helicopter carrying medical personnel from Maiduguri city to treat refugees in the Gwoza area came under fire of Boko Haram extremists, wounding an airman.