•Cameroon troops at Nigeria’s border
Boko Haram has attacked security agents in Buni Yadi, headquarters of Gujba Local Government, killing 24 soldiers and 21 policemen including a Divisional Police Officer (DPO), sources said yesterday.
In attacks on two Borno State villages also on Monday, nine people were killed.
Buni Yadi village has repeatedly come under Boko Haram attacks. It was there that sect members killed 55 pupils who were sleeping in their dormitory last year. It is 55 kilometres south of Yobe State capital, Damaturu.
Residents said the hoodlums came into the town with one Armoured Personal Carrier vehicle (APC) and six Hilux vans, shooting in the air through the town as they headed for security formations where they lunched their dastardly attacks.
The Joint Task Force (JTF) and the police in Yobe State have been reluctant to release the casualty figure but Police Commissioner Marcus K. Danladi confirmed the incident.
“I am just coming back from Buni Yadi and I need to sit down to gather my facts together before giving it out,” CP Danladi said.
Police spokesman Nansak Chegwam also said details of the incident were sketchy, adding that investigation had begun.
Officials said 54 people were killed in the two attacks.
Police constable Abdullahi Mohammed said the suspected Boko Haram members killed 24 soldiers and 21 policemen in the attack on Buni Yadi.
A Borno State local government official, Nglamuda Ibrahim, said gunmen killed nine people in two remote villages, also on Monday night.
Ibrahim said in Ashigashiya town the armed men shot at villagers, burned their homes and held control over the area and hoisted their white flags with Arabic letters.
A source with the Joint Task Force also told VOA’s Hausa Service that 24 soldiers and 21 policemen were confirmed dead following the attack.
The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the gunmen took away an armored tank and many vehicles.
There has been no word on civilian casualties.
A Hausa Service reporter who is in northeastern Nigeria said militants were also attacking motorists on highways leading in and out of Maiduguri.
Drivers said snipers wait in trees to fire at passing cars, which are then attacked by gunmen hiding in bushes by the side of the road.
The Divisional Police Officer (DPO), Hassan Thlama, a Superintendent, the Divisional Crime Officer (DCO) were among those killed, it was gathered.
The attackers stormed the town around 6:03 pm and unleashed terror on the security.
A senior officer of Gujba Local Government, who pleaded for anonymity said the police barracks, the Divisional Police Station, and the military base in the area were burnt down.
Other places razed by the insurgents include; the palace of the district head of Buni-Yadi, Alhaji Abba Hassan Muktar ,a personal houses and the palace of the Emir of Buni-Yadi, Alhaji Muktar Ali Gangaran were also vandalised by the insurgents.
Witnesses said the insurgents were armed with various weapons and petrol bombs.
A resident said the attackers drove in pick-up trucks, armoured tanks and motorcycles.
Abubakar (not real name) said the attack was clearly targeted at security operatives, unlike past attacks in which civilians also fell victims.
He said: “We were shocked and terrified in the evening when a gang of armed Boko Haram burst into this town, chanting that they were here for the soldiers and policemen; and not the civilians. Don’t panic, we will not touch you. All of you are safe today (Monday). As they attacked the military posts, they proceeded to the police station, the magistrate’s court and our council secretariat complex; and put fire on them.
“Some of the people, however, fled their houses and shops for safety, despite assurance of attackers not to kill anyone of them. Residents living near the police station and military posts however; fled to nearby bushes and farmlands.”
It was gathered that security operatives moved to Buni Yadi to ascertain the impact of the attack. A top emergency security meeting was summoned by the state government in Damaturu, the state capital. Deputy Governor Abubakar Aliyu met with the Police Commissioner, the JTF Commander and the Secretary to the State Government (SSG) where he was briefed on the incident.
Military and hospital ambulances were also sighted along Maiduguri road in Damaturu with heavy military escorts.
Another village, Chinene in Gwoza Local Government, Borno State was attacked.
Two churches, shops and residential houses were set ablaze.
Chinene village is southeast and a border community with Cameroon, which is about 130 kilometres drive from Maiduguri, the Borno state capital.
Cameroon yesterday began deploying large troop reinforcements to buttress its border with Nigeria against the threat posed by marauding Boko Haram militants, security officials said.
“The deployment has begun. Today, soldiers have started being sent to the border regions,” a senior police official in the area told AFP on condition of anonymity.