No fewer than 300 vehicles were yesterday set ablaze in various locations of Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, by persons suspected to be members of the Boko Haram sect reports The Nation.
The latest attack came barely eight hours after 50 gunmen believed to be members of the sect attacked Damboa Divisional Police Station and a military post, killing a policeman and 11 other residents in Damboa local council area, in the early hours of Friday.
The gunmen who perpetrated the Damboa attacks, after fleeing, afterwards re-mobilised and returned to the community, hunting down their targets.
Yesterday’s gunmen, according to a top security source in Maiduguri, used Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and arrived in nine Golf Volkswagen vehicles and rode on motorcycles.
The gunmen who stormed the area at dawn, descended Damboa Divisional Police Station, houses and shops which they set ablaze after preponderance of gun attacks.
Sources said they later mobilised more of their men who burned down vehicles at homes and at mechanics’ workshops. Sources revealed that no fewer than 300 vehicles were set on fire. Damboa is 87 kilometres south of Maiduguri, and a flashpoint of the Boko Haram sect.
The community had witnessed series of attacks through exchange of gunfire and bombings in recent past.
A top military officer of the Special Operation Forces (SMOF) confirmed the incident yesterday in Maiduguri, stating, “More soldiers have been dispatched to the affected area to confront the Boko Haram insurgents. Intelligence report also indicated that they fled from Damboa towards the bush leading to parts of Yobe and Gombe states. For sure, they will not escape,” he said.
He said the assailants could have fled from the Sambisa Games Reserve Forests, after the Special Operation Forces destroyed the Boko Haram training camp and hideouts in May this year.
A resident of Damboa, Mallam Abu Zarami who fled to Maiduguri because of the attacks and killings, said, “The gunmen have also destroyed several business premises and shops in Damboa; even though they faced stiff resistance from members of the Borno Vigilance Youth Groups (BVYG) who also killed one of the insurgents, injuring many of them and capturing one alive.”
Zarami said, the rate at which some suspected Boko Haram sect members were unleashing terror in some communities around the offshore of Sambisa Game Reserve Forests, particularly the last week deadly attack in Konduga, Mafa, Marte, Kirenuwa, Kala Balge, Bama and Damboa council areas which led to the death of over hundred civilians posed a serious question as to “whether it is true that men of the Joint Task Force (JTF) have truly, really invaded and successfully raided the Boko Haram camps in the area as they claimed in their report to the public, or not.
“I can certainly tell you that the vigilante youths really tried and defied the superior fire-power of the gunmen; because they confronted them squarely, which even led to the minimal number of the casualties recorded.” Speaking on the casualties, a top politician and close associate of Governor Kashim Shettima from Damboa who did not want his name mentioned, said, “My people in Damboa are under siege, as the gunmen have destroyed many lives and property during the attack.”
He said the gunmen had not only been attacking police stations and military formations, since 2011, but 18 local hunters were also killed in April at a market square for allegedly buying and selling pork.
On how the gunmen attacked Damboa, the politician said, “the fact was that the insurgents speak Arabic fluently, while attacking the police station, military posts and other public places with sophisticated weapons and IEDs that claimed over dozen lives, including a policeman at the station at dawn on Friday.
“My worry now is that we are no longer safe because, how can a group of terrorists attack a local government council, killing many people, just to re-mobilise and after some hours, came again, launched a fresh and successful attack by burning vehicles and residential houses without being confronted by the security agencies deployed in the area?” He asked rhetorically.
Owing to lack of telecommunication network which has been shut down for the past three months, the JTF spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Sagir Musa, and the Police Public Relations Officer, Gideon Jubrin, a Deputy Superintendent of Police, could not be reached for confirmation.