Suspected Boko Haram insurgents on Friday afternoon carried out multiple attacks in Borno State, killing scores of people, including soldiers, policemen and members of a vigilante group. The terrorists attacked military and police locations in Damboa town, where scores of military and police troops were feared killed.
The Defence Headquarters however said on Saturday that 53 of the insurgents were killed when security forces repelled the attacks. The Director of Defence Information, Major-General Chris Olukolade, in a statement, said the military lost five soldiers and a senior officer during the confrontation.
He said the insurgents stormed the troops’ bases and police locations, while most of the operatives were out on patrol of surrounding villages. Olukolade said the bodies of officers killed had been recovered and deposited in the military morgue, while those wounded were receiving treatment in a military medical facility.
The Defence Headquarters also disclosed that troops on patrol around Baga area of the state recovered explosives and arms concealed in a truck loaded with fish and other items. Olukolade said four suspects had been arrested in connection with the vehicle.
A military source, who spoke to the online news agency, Sahara Reporters, had said, “At least, 10 soldiers and police officers were killed and several injured” in Damboa.
The terrorists reportedly stormed the 33 Armoured Brigades, Damboa and the Divisional Police Station, firing high calibre weapons and Improvised Explosive Devices. The military source, who pleaded anonymity, said the militants also targeted the Divisional Police Officer, killing him and four other policemen.
“Over a dozen of the militants were also killed,” the source added.
Hundreds of Dambua residents were said to have fled to Biu and Maiduguri, the state capital, due to the magnitude of the attacks. The Borno State Police Command confirmed the attacks but did not give details.
The Police Public Relations Officer, Gideon Jubrin, was quoted as saying, “There was an attack in Damboa but we haven’t got details from the area (yet). I can’t tell you anything for now.”
Also on Friday, a suicide bomber in a Volkswagen Golf car reportedly crashed into a security checkpoint, killing himself, a policeman and three members of a youth vigilante group in Konduga, Konduga Local Government Area of Borno State.
Similarly, in Konduga same day, a suicide bomber suspected to be a member of the terrorist group reportedly killed five people and wounded dozens. The bomber was said to have targeted worshippers at a mosque where Muslims in the village were observing Friday prayers.
International news agency, Reuters, reported that a local vigilante group stopped the pick-up truck conveying the bomber for inspection when he approached a checkpoint. The bomber then detonated the bomb a few metres away from the mosque. Reuters quoted a witness, Mohammadu Sheriff, as saying he saw the vigilantes conducting checks on the pick-up van carrying firewood.
“Suddenly it exploded. It would have been more devastating if the bomber had succeeded in driving near the mosque, which had over a thousand people in it,” Sheriff said.
Sahara Reporters also reported that among the dead was a police officer. The report said 10 persons were injured.
The agency quoted a resident in the area, Modu Ban’a, as saying, “The pickup van had approached the check point at noon and as the local security operatives tried to frisk the car before allowing it to pass, the driver, who was on a suicide mission, detonated the explosive device that killed five persons among who was a plain-clothe police officer from the Criminal Investigation Bureau.”