The nation’s military, yesterday, said at least 15 persons, including a soldier, were killed and about 83 others seriously injured on Sunday night during hours of battle to ward off a large number of armed suicide bombers trying to invade Maiduguri, the Borno state capital.
Soldiers on guard at the outskirts of Maiduguri also gunned down six armed Boko Haram gunmen and seven suicide bombers during the attack, bringing the death toll on both sides to 29.
Residents of Maiduguri were forced to keep vigil following hours of thunderous explosions and shootings that rented the air till early hours of yesterday.
The military said Boko Haram suicide bombers and gunmen attempted to invade Maiduguri through the outskirts of Bille-Shuwa and Alikaranti villages.
Spokesman of the military at Operation Lafiya Dole Headquarters, Maiduguri, Col. Onyema Nwachukwu, said the attackers would have made it into more crowded areas of Maiduguri had the troops deployed along the attacked axis not repelled them.
Survivors of the attack told Premium Times that most of those killed in the suicide attack were youth who were at a viewing centre when the suicide bombers infiltrated them as they were fleeing upon hearing gunshots between soldiers and the Boko Haram fighters.
“The gunmen came with the suicide bombers, and as they were engaged by soldiers, some of them sneaked into the confused fleeing crowd and detonated themselves killing about 15 people and over 80 others,” an operative of Civilian-JTF, Momodu Bukar, said.
Nwachukwu said the attackers were on a mission to carry out major attack on Maiduguri.
“Troops of Operation Lafiya Dole deployed in the Cashew Plantation around Bille Shuwa and Alikaranti villages, have quashed an attempt by Boko Haram terrorists to penetrate Maiduguri metropolis yesterday at about 8.
10 pm,” he said.
“The insurgents met with stiff resistance of troops who killed 6 of the insurgents and neutralised seven suicide bombers in the encounter.
The troops also recovered two AK47 rifles and two magazines.
“The Nigerian Police Explosive Ordnance Disposal team have detonated two IED vests recovered from the killed suicide bombers beaten by the troops and unable to force their way into the metropolis, the insurgents retreated and callously resorted to attacking locals who, reacting to the encounter, were fleeing in confusion from Bille Shuwa and Alkaranti villages with Person Borne Improvised Explosive Device.
“Sadly, 15 persons, including a soldier, have so far been confirmed dead in the encounter, while no fewer than 83 persons who suffered varying degrees of injury are receiving medical attention.
Troops are still on the trail of the insurgents.
More details will be communicated as further clarifications are made.”
Teenager insurgent surrenders Also, the military spokesman said, “a 14-year-old Boko Haram insurgent, Rawa Babagana, has surrendered to troops of Operation Lafiya Dole.
The insurgent escaped from the Boko Haram enclave in Kekeno in the northern fringes of the Lake Chad Islands.
He is currently being profiled.
“It is clear that the remnants of the Boko Haram terrorists are hell bent on remaining relevant by attacking soft and vulnerable targets and therefore calls for collective vigilance by all security stakeholders and members of the public.
“Members of the general public are, therefore, urged to be watchful and discern strange persons and suspicious activities in their communities and report to the security agencies.”
Police put figure at 20 But the police confirmed that 20 persons were killed and 84 others wounded in the attack.
The state Commissioner of Police, Damian Chukwu, who made the confirmation, also disclosed that fi ve mutilated corpses of male suicide bombers were recovered and two Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) vests were diff used by men of the command at the scene of the attack.
Governor Shettima speaks In his reaction, Governor Kashim Shettima described the insurgents’ attack as “sad and inhumane,” assuring that in the fullness of time light shall prevail over darkness.
Shettima told journalists when he visited the over 80 victims of the attack on treatment at the Specialist Hospital, Maiduguri, that the attack indicated high level of atrocities committed by the insurgents.
“We have repeatedly said they have been sufficiently decimated, and these decimated monsters berk in the oxygen of publicity they are targeting soft targets, senselessly and criminally opening fi re on innocent souls.
“Yesterday, we witnessed that very sad episode, we will continue to intensify our efforts to safeguard life and property, and we are talking with security agencies that are doing their utmost best to secure the state.
“Appreciable progress has been made but such hiccups are inevitable.
I will visit the communities to see what measures need to be put in place to forestall future occurrence,” he said.
Shettima gave the assurance that the state government would provide free treatment to the victims and provide necessary support during their period of recuperation.
The governor also condoled with the families of those who lost their lives in the attack.