In what looked like a reprisal attack, suspected Boko Haram insurgents on Tuesday evening carried out a fresh attack in Konduga town, Konduga local government area of Borno state, killing at least 39 persons.
Over 2,000 houses, public buildings and shops were also burnt down by the insurgents.
This latest act of violence was coming less than two weeks after a similar incident in Kawuri community in the same local government area in which gunmen killed 85 civilians.
The insurgents had launched deadly attacks in the last two weeks and sacked 37 communities of Kwaljiri, Kaya, Ngawo Fate, Limanti, Njaba, and Yahuri, among others in Damboa, Konduga and Gwoza local government areas.
The state Police Commissioner, Mr Lawal Tanko, who accompanied Governor Kashim Shettima to the scene of the attack, told newsmen, “You have seen things for yourselves”.
Our correspondent, who was in the entourage of the governor, reports that corpses of the victims were seen being taken from various locations and assembled at the premises of the central mosque at the district head’s house in the town.
Reporters at the scene counted 36 corpses, comprising of women and children. The remaining three had already been buried in the morning.
Sources said the death toll may rise as some residents who fled into the bush were trailed and killed by the insurgents.
As at press time, search for more corpses was ongoing.
Residents who were rendered homeless were seen fleeing the area, while others took refuge in nearby bushes.
Buildings burnt by the attackers comprised of the house of the district head, the central mosque, buildings occupied by security operatives, schools, hospitals, the agricultural department of the local government, the court house and the public library, among others.
Residents said the attack was launched by over 60 suspected Boko Haram insurgents who dressed in military uniforms.
The gunmen stormed a local market in the area around 4pm and fired sporadic shots into the crowd, before setting houses on fire.
It was further gathered that the gunmen arrived in two armoured tanks, which were reportedly seized from soldiers, as well as other sophisticated weapons such as AK-47 rifles, anti-aircraft guns and improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
Residents who sustained injuries during the attack are now receiving treatment at the Konduga General Hospital and the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital (UMTH) in Maiduguri.
Narrating the incident to newsmen, a survivor, Malam Kolomi Modu, who brought five of his wounded relations for treatment to the General Hospital, described the attacks as horrifying.
He said: “Our village was attacked by Boko Haram members on Tuesday evening, which is the market day, and killed 39 people and set the whole town on fire before leaving.
“Several people sustained gunshot wounds but I managed to bring five of them to the hospital because there was no way to move them out before now.”
Another survivor, Malam Bukar Goni, who sustained minor burns when his house was set on fire, said he escaped by the whiskers.
Goni, who is being treated at the Borno Specialist Hospital, said: “We were busy conducting our normal commercial activities in the market when suddenly we heard gunshots coming from different directions and cries for help from women and children.
“I succeeded in escaping into my house, but some of the attackers quickly set the house on fire, but Almighty God saved me and the family as we sneaked out and hid inside a nearby culvert. Though I sustained minor burns on my elbow and back, I thank God for sparing our lives.”
As for Bulama Mala, he was in the market to make some purchases when he heard endless sounds of explosives and gunshots.
“When I turned my face I saw gunmen firing into the crowd. A bullet hit my leg and I fell down, but I dragged myself to a nearby shack where I hid until the shootings subsided.
“When the soldiers came to the village much later they assisted us and gave first aid to those badly injured. It was their presence that made me to come out of hiding.”
Governor Shettima, who visited the town accompanied by his deputy, Zanna Umar Mustapha, and some members of his cabinet, wept profusely, stressing that the Boko Haram militants had no reason of doing what they did.
He directed the release of N100 million for relief materials to the survivors.
The governor called on the federal government to deploy more troops and equipment to the state to tackle the Boko Haram insurgency.
“Federal government should wake up to face its responsibilities. Though soldiers are doing their best, but Boko Haram are more motivated and equipped than the military,” he declared.