Michael Olugbode in Damaturu
Fleeing members of Boko Haram last night attacked Dapchi town in Bursari Local Government Area of Yobe State.
Details of the attack were still sketchy as at the time of filing this report, but THISDAY confirmed that the insurgents carted away foodstuffs.
However, the rumoured abduction of scores of schoolgirls from Government Girls Secondary School (GGSS) in the town could not be confirmed.
Some of the residents of the town who fled into surrounding bushes told THISDAY on phone that their town was attacked but that the abduction of the schoolgirls could not be ascertained.
They revealed that there was heavy gunfire from the insurgents.
One of the residents of the town, Ibrahim Abubakar, a civil servant in the local government, told THISDAY that they all had to go into hiding when they saw trucks and motorcycles carrying Boko Haram fighters into the town.
He said the insurgents shot indiscriminately and sporadically, leaving everyone in awe and with no other option than to flee.
Abubakar who spoke at about 9:30p.m., said: “For now, the shooting has stopped but we are still in hiding as I speak to you.”
He added that though most of the gunfire were heard around GGSS, they could not confirm that any student was abducted from the school.
He said: “We have not been able to confirm if there was any death as a result of the attack as it is still dark and no one is bold enough to come out of hiding just yet. Perhaps we will be able to assess the situation in the morning, but as we speak, we know there was a reinforcement of soldiers as exchange of gunfire was heard.”
A security source, who pleaded anonymity, told THISDAY that the attack on Dapchi was not unconnected with the fleeing Boko Haram fighters who were displaced by troops in Sambisa forest.
He said there has been red alert since last Saturday that some terrorists in three vehicles were seen heading towards Damaturu, and that all checkpoints were asked to be on red alert.
“They were sighted moving towards Mafa – Sasawa villages in Yobe State. Perhaps they may have taken another route and appeared in Dapchi today or another group since they are all in disarray. I have been trying to get my colleagues stationed in Dapchi but I could not reach them after I spoke with one of them earlier. The signal we received says the situation is calm. On the rumoured abduction, I can’t confirm that as we speak,” he said.
Attempts to reach some staff of GGSS Dapchi were futile as their lines were not available.
A teacher in the school, who escaped the attack, said the attackers stormed the school around 7p.m through the eastern part of the town.
“They shot sporadically and forced the school food store opened. We (staff) and the students ran into the bush for safety,” he said.
When asked whether there was abduction of the girls, he said it’s too early for him to comment on it.
“For now, we can’t say anything until all the students returned tomorrow morning,” he said.
A resident, Alhaji Ibrahim, said the attackers stormed the village in six Hilux vans through the eastern part while shooting sporadically.
“They forced some shops opened and stole food items. We are yet to know if there are casualties because everyone in the town has scampered for safety. Some fled to bush, others into their homes.
“They also attacked military location at the town entrance bridge. But we cannot tell if there is casualties there,” he added.
Also confirming the attack, the state Commissioner of Police, AbdulMaliki Sumonu, said: “At about 5.30 p.m today (yesterday), the suspected insurgents attacked Dapchi, headquarters of Bursari Local Government Area.
“The details are not immediately available, we are still collating the details including the casualties,” he said.
The commissioner said security operatives have been reinforced in the area to ensure total security.
The Chairman of Bursari Local Government Area, Alhaji Zanna Abatcha, said the suspected insurgents had already left the town and more security operatives have been deployed to maintain security.
“The details are not known yet because it’s already night, we will get the comprehensive details tomorrow” he said.
Dapchi is the headquarters of Bursari Local Government Area of Yobe State. It is a distance of about 100 kilometres from Damaturu, the state capital.