Gunmen suspected to be members of Boko Haram sect on Tuesday evening stormed Konduga Local Government Area of Borno State, killing 39 residents including members of the youth vigilance group popularly known as civilian JTF.
Some 2,000 houses were also torched in the attack which also claimed some security personnel. The gunmen succeeded inflicted serious injuries on victims who are now receiving treatment at the General Hospital, Bama, University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital, UMTH and other healthcare centres across the state.
Konduga, with a population of over 10,000, is about 45 kilometres drive from Maiduguri, the state capital. It is
located near the notorious Sambisa Forest which allegedly harbours terrorist camps.
Last year, the local government witnessed deadly attacks in which terrorists ambushed residents, including some worshipers at mosques, killing 50 of them after setting the worship centre and other residential houses ablaze.
The gunmen, according to the Vice Chairman, Civilian JTF, Tijjani Peter, also set razed shops and 50 vehicles, before displacing thousands of residents after abducting some of them, mostly youth and women, including students of Government Girls Secondary School, Konduga.
Tijjani admitted that “we had a prior knowledge about three days ago that some terrorists were sighted by residents in a nearby bush of Konduga, but it is unfortunate that after alerting the security operatives, no action was taken.
“It was only yesterday that we started hearing sounds of gunshots and explosives at about 4pm, we tried our best to repel the attackers as three of them were killed by my colleagues, but they later overpowered us, killing many residents.
“In fact, the casualty figure could have been worse than this, but many resi-dents were alerted that the town will be attacked in which many of us ran into the bush to hide. We only left the aged and underaged with some of us, but all to no avail,” he stated.
Tijjani, however, said “at about 7pm when the air force jet arrived in the town, the terrorists went into hiding inside the town where the sounds of gunshots and bombing subsided, but when the airstrike stopped, the terrorists resurfaced at about 8pm and wreaked havoc till 2am on Wednesday.
The District Head of Konduga, Alhaji Zanna Masu Yale, whose entire palace was bombed, said the terrorists also burnt the Konduga Central Mosque, health care clinics, maternity home, agric zonal office nearby his palace, before setting ablaze the Konduga College of Business and Management Studies, as well as security formations in the local government headquarters. National Mirror gathered that virtually all government structures were destroyed by the gunmen who eventually fled into the bush.
A resident, Mallam Baba Abubakar, said the gunmen stormed Konduga at about 4pm in two armoured patrol carriers, five camouflaged Tata Hilux vehicles in army colours, five motorcycles with other sophisticated weapons, as well as Improvised Explosive Devices, IEDs, overpowered the security operatives on guard and dealt with residents.
Abubakar, who said he escaped into the bush, but have to come back to the ghost town on Wednesday morning to pick up his pieces, said, even the military operatives ran away from their check points when they discovered that they could not confront the firepower of the terrorists. “More than seventy percent of the people of this town have fled after the attack,” he stated.
Governor Kashim Shettima, who visited the town, ordered the immediate release of N100 million to the victims. Shettima, who shed tears profusely upon seeing the 39 dead bodies waiting for mass burial at the destroyed central mosque, described those behind the dastardly act as satanic, barbaric and anti- Islam.
He also appealed to the fleeing residents to stay as government would provide them with bags of rice, grains and other foodstuff as an emergency intervention, even as he added that all the houses burnt down would be rebuilt by the state government.
The governor, in an interview with journalists in Konduga, for the first time admitted that the Boko Haram sect is more sophisticated than the security operatives in the state, hence the perennial deadly calamities befalling the state.
“Honestly, we as government believe that our security agencies are doing their best in fighting the Book Haram sect, but I have to be frank with you, the terrorists are much more motivated than our security operatives.
“As I am talking to you now, I just received another call/message that the town of Izge of Gwoza Council area of the state is under deadly attack by Boko Haram.
But we will not be deterred, as we will do everything possible to ensure the restoration of peace in our dear state. Shettima vowed not to leave Konduga until trucks loaded with food items arrived the troubled area from Maiduguri, based on the directives he gave to some of his aides.
He, however, went round the affected areas where he distributed money to victims so that they can buy food or water to drink.
Spokesman of the 7 Division, Nigerian Army, Colonel Mohammed Dole, confirmed the incident, but pleaded that the casualty figure is yet to be ascertained as they were still compiling details.
However, the Police Commissioner, Lawal Tanko, who also accompanied Governor Shettima to Konduga, as well as the Assistant Inspector General of Police, Zone 12, AIG Gana confirmed the incident.
Meanwhile, the Christian Lawyers’ Fellowship of Nigeria has, CLASFON, yesterday said the unabated and indiscriminate killing of innocent Nigerians, especially women and children by militia groups in some communities in the Middle Belt region was unacceptable.