Boko Haram Over Powers Military In Borno
Haram militants on Saturday launched fresh attacks on some communities in Borno and Yobe states, killing scores of people, including children.
The attack on Borno State was on a Military base at the fishing community of Baga, near Lake Chad.
The base is used by the Multinational Joint Task Force which was established in 1998 to battle cross-border crimes but whose mandate was expanded to fighting Boko Haram.
The force is made up of troops from Nigeria as well as Niger and Chad.
Hundreds of fear-stricken residents of Baga and five other towns and villages were reported to have poured into the neighbouring Chad in fishing boats and canoes to escape being attacked too by the sect members.
A Military source, who pleaded anonymity, said the soldiers in the base were caught unawares by the insurgents.
He said, “It was an ugly development in Baga on Saturday morning, when the Boko Haram insurgents attacked the base there and practically dislodged the soldiers. I can tell you that it was really bad.”
A resident, Usman Danssubdu, told the Agence France Presse that the insurgents seized the base after several hours of gun battle with the troops.
He added that most of the residents of the community were “now seeking refuge in Gubuwa, Kangallam and Kaiga villages inside Chad near the border with Nigeria.”
Another resident, Yunus Ali, told our correspondent in Maiduguri that the insurgents captured the community and hoisted their flag at the MNJTF base.
Ali, who arrived Maiduguri around 5pm on Sunday, said he slept in the bush and trekked many kilometers before he got a bus to the state cxapital.
“It was around 5am yesterday (Saturday) when we started hearing gunshots and they entered the MNJTF base where they killed many civilians living in the barracks,” he said.
Another fleeing resident, Ibrahim Kaka, said the insurgents also followed people fleeing to the bush where they killed many people.
“They did not spare anybody as they shot at men, women and even children who were fleeing into the bush,” Kaka claimed.
Our correspondent saw thousands of fleeing residents at the Baga motor park in Maiduguri where they were being awaited by their anxious relatives.
The PUNCH could not get the Director, Defence Information, Maj. Gen Chris Olukolade, to confirm the attack on base in Baga as calls to his mobile telephone line did not connect.
Also, Olukolade did not respond to a text message on the issue as of the time of filing this report.
In the latest attack on Yobe, the terrorists attacked Babbangida town, the headquarters of Tarmuwa Local Government Area on Saturday.
A resident, Ibrahim Nur, said the insurgents came strong on the town at about 6.30pm, engaging security forces in a gun battle.
According to him, the places of battle were the Military base located north of the town, a police station at the southern part, as well as the LG secretariat, the government lodge and a primary school.
He said, “The insurgents had the intention of destroying all these places but the security forces from what we have seen have been able to repel them. Our only fear is that the battle may continue today(Sunday).”
Nur added that the number of casualties still remained unknown as most of the places of the battle were still cordoned off by the military.
Babbangida is only about 50 kilometres north of Damaturu, the Yobe state capital.
Journalists also learnt in Maiduguri, Borno State on Sunday that about 40 youths were abducted on Thursday by Boko Haram members in Malari.
A security source said the abducted youths were taken to a location called Modube, a new base of the sect close to the notorious Sambisa forest
The source said, “Our office had received Intelligence report that on January 1, at about 5pm, some Boko Haram gunmen invaded one Malari village in Damboa LGA, where they killed some villagers and abducted some youths. The youths might have been taken to one of Boko Haram’s hideouts known as Modube Camp.”
Some of the residents of Malari, who escaped the attack told journalists in Maiduguri that the Boko Haram gunmen asked them to come out and listen to some sermons.
Bulama Malam, a farmer, said, “They gathered many of us near the house of the village head, after telling us that they wanted to preach to us; and then, they began to select young men aged between 12 and 25. I was lucky to escape, because they only selected very young and able-bodied men.”
It was also learnt from a senior security official that the militants “on Thursday attacked a bus that was transporting many passengers from Kousseri to Maroua in Cameroun and killed 15 persons on the spot.
The officer official, who asked not to be named, added that 10 other passengers were severely injured but were taken to the Maroua Hospital.
Maroua is the capital of the Far North region, which has seen the worst of the spillover of Boko Haram insurgency .
A Camerounian businessman, Foncha Ngeh, said there had been a string of other attacks in the region by the Nigerian insurgents.
Late last month, Cameroon had to call on its air force to help troops dislodge Boko Haram fighters who briefly occupied a Military camp after hundreds of militants mounted a wave of attacks on five northern towns.
Raids by Boko Haram have forced many Cameroonians living along the porous border to abandon farms, raising the risk of food shortages in the semi-arid part of the country.
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