Since the inauguration of President Muhammadu Buhari, barely one week ago, specifically May 29, 2015, Borno State, particularly Maiduguri, the state capital, has witnessed sustained attacks by insurgents. Buhari had said at the inauguration that the nation’s military command was being moved to Borno, the hotbed of Boko Haram, to end the insurgency.
But barely 24 hours after the swearing-in of the new administration, Boko Haram launched the first invasion. The May 30 attack came at about 12:30am when residents were asleep. The insurgents reportedly drove in a convoy of vehicles and motorcycles laden with Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), rocket grenades and anti-aircraft guns.
They entered Malari village, killed 15 residents and wounded 19 others in Bulunkutu Tsaleke, Gomari and Ajilari wards.
The killings, according to Ibrahim Yakubu of Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF), were caused by the insurgents’ sporadic gunshots, explosions and shelling on the wards that commenced from 12.35-2.45am that Saturday. “We were shocked about how these areas were targeted by Boko Haram last night. Among those killed were five children and two women sleeping in the open because of heat in their houses,” said Yakubu.
He said the insurgents, after entering Malari through the northeast flank of Sambisa forest on dirt road, crossed River Ngadabul to launch their attacks on the communities. “The militants could not enter Maiduguri metropolis because of the trenches we dug that made their vehicles to get stuck. But they wreaked havoc on lives and property in the affected communities”, said the vigilante youth.
“The extent of damage to lives and property could have been much higher if the Boko Haram gunmen had crossed the trenches”. Confirming the incident in Maiduguri, a source close to Borno Police Command said some residents of Gomari, Bulunkutu Tsaleke and Ajilari wards of Malari were killed in the attacks. “We are still collating the fatalities in the attacks, but 19 people have been hospitalized for injuries they sustained from gunshots and artillery fire that lasted over two hours in western part of Maiduguri metropolis,” said the source.
Later that Saturday, a suicide bomber sneaked into a mosque along Ali Kotoko Road, near Maiduguri Monday Market leaving 26 dead and 28 critically injured. A security source who assisted in the evacuation of victims said the incident took place at about 3:45pm when Muslim faithful gathered to perform their La,asar prayers.
“A bomb blast exploded at the Adam Kolo Central Mosque along Ali Kotoko Road of Maiduguri Monday Market (MMM) during an afternoon prayer, and killed 26 people with about 28 critically injured on Saturday”, said Mallam Abba Shukura who was among those evacuating the victims. “I can confirm to you that many people in the mosque were killed or injured.”
The mosque explosion, according to Modu Fugu of Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF), occurred when the prayer session was about to commence at about 3.25pm with dozens of people in the mosque. “We were terrified by the loud explosion that rocked the mosque near the bicycle sellers market and other shops. Worshippers fled to safety. But many were killed or injured,” Fugu stated.
Hamidu Isa, a shop owner near the mosque, told our correspondent that an IED had been hidden in a corner of the mosque in the morning before the suicide bomber came to detonate it at about 3.30pm”. Borno Police Command confirmed the mosque blast.
Boko Haram gunmen, same day, attacked Fika and Ngalda in Yobe State; and torched several public buildings, telecom masts, houses and shops, before fleeing into Sambisa Forest. The insurgents, according to a resident, Mainasara Ali, looted several shops and barns of grains. Fika and Ngalda are farming and herding communities, and 155 kilometres and 176 kilometres respectively southwest of Damaturu, the state capital.
“We were taken by surprise by the attacks on our houses and shops by the insurgents desperately looking for food to survive in the forest, but they did not kill any of our people. All our shops and barns were looted by the gunmen who also destroyed council offices and health centre, south of the central market,” said Ali. He said the insurgents chanted ‘God is great’ in Arabic before torching the public buildings in the towns.
According to him, most of the houses of local officials in Fika and Ngalda were also burnt that night. “We will continue to fight whosoever identifies with government which we consider anti-Islam. We will not relent or surrender until we impose Sharia Law in Nigeria”, Ali quoted one of the insurgents as saying.
Another resident, Ali Fika, said: “Boko Haram insurgents on Saturday evening attacked Ngalda in Fika Local Government Area and razed the council secretariat, High Court complex, before looting shops and barns of grains which they carted away in their tracks.
He said the insurgents, before embarking on the massive destruction, engaged soldiers at a military post. It was also learnt that several vehicles and motorcycles were set ablaze during the two-hour attack.