Barely 48 hours after they attacked Mainok town in Borno state, which left over 30 persons dead and most part of the village burnt, Boko Haram terrorists on Wednesday returned to attack villagers returning to count their losses.
Commuting along the Maiduguri-Damaturu highway was halted again for the fourth time in a week, as security operatives battle to prevent Eidel Fitri holiday travelers from driving into an ambush by the insurgents.
Villagers reported 15 persons killed on Tuesday night as Boko Haram fighters carried on days of attacks on the only safe route linking other parts of the country with Maiduguri, the birth place of the Boko Haram insurgency.
Warsala, a village located on the boundary between Borno and Yobe states, in northeast Nigeria, was the latest community along the Kano-Maiduguri highway, that is being attacked by Boko Haram extremists.
The agrarian community is not more than 5km from Ngamdu, another village along the highway that buried 10 persons killed by Boko Haram terrorists on Friday night.
The Tuesday night attack on Warsala came barely 24 hours after the same terrorists attacked Mainok, a village located along the same highway and about 40km away from Warsala.
A traveler along the route, Hamza Baba, told reporters Wednesday that he drove through a village practically deserted, even as he sighted some smoking trailer trucks by the road side.
“The trucks were attacked and burnt by Boko Haram terrorists who shot their drivers,” said Baba, a government worker travelling to his home town for the Eid Fitri celebration.
“A villager, who had luggage on his head and standing by the road side to catch a vehicle to Damaturu, informed me that the attack took place at about 8pm when the gunmen arrived Warsala shooting sporadically. He said eight persons were found dead this morning and that he had to flee because the gunmen said they would still be back.
“Another trailer conveying commodities to Maiduguri was attacked, and the driver killed early this morning in Ngamdu village about 2 kilometres away from Warsala, which is a village under Yobe state.
“This has forced the village to start fleeing their homes en mass this morning. I saw more than 3000 of them leaving; many were trekking, some were conveyed in trucks. The Damaturu-Maiduguri highway is becoming a dead zone; this is the fourth attack this week from Monday. I wonder why intensive patrol measures is not being launched to stop this”, said Baba, who communicated his concerns via social chat platform, WhatsApp.
On Monday, reports from the attacked town of Mainok in Kaga local government areas of Borno state, indicated that at least 30 persons were killed, and many others injured by rampaging Boko Haram terrorists, security sources said.
Mainok is a town located about 65kilometres from Maiduguri, the Borno state capital.
The attack lasted about five hours as the gunmen took their time to ensure that no single edifice in the village was left untouched, even as more than 30 villagers and travellers were said to have been killed during the attack.
Sources said more than a hundred Boko Haram terrorists had, at about 5:30pm, stormed Mainok town and opened fire on civilians, killing at least 40 helpless civilians. More than 30 vehicles that were trapped near the village were also burnt as well as hundreds of homes.
Abubakar Danmalam, an operative of the Civilian-JTF, who visited Mainok on Tuesday, said “about 30 persons, and that include those travellers that trapped on the way while traveling along Maiduguri – Damaturu roads” were murdered.
”We have buried some of the people that can be buried but some of them were burnt beyond recognition; some of our foodstuffs were carted away,” he said.
The Borno state governor, Kashim Shettima, told visiting officials of the Nigerian Foundation for the Support of Victims of Insurgency that many people were killed during the Monday attack on the Maiduguri highway.
Speaking Tuesday, Mr. Shettima said his optimism that the Boko Haram insurgency would soon end was heightened by the appointment of new security chiefs by President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday.
“Nigeria now has the best of chances to overcome the challenges of insurgency facing it, since 2009,” Mr. Shettima said.
“Yesterday (Monday) was the happiest moment of my life”, he said.
“President Muhammadu Buhari made a strong statement by his decision to appoint two highly competent sons of Borno to the offices of the National Security Adviser and the Chief of Army Staff.
“I think his strategy was to get people with ancestral knowledge of the Borno terrain. Major General Tukur Buratai is even a direct victim of Boko Haram attacks. He lost family members when his residence was attacked earlier this year in Buratai, a town in Biu local government area. Monguno was destroyed and once occupied by Boko Haram and that is where the new NSA, Retired Major General Babagana Monguno hails from. In fact, a key family member of General Monguno is still being held captive by Boko Haram insurgents.
“These two Generals are from Borno, they know exactly where it pinches and most importantly, they understand the terrain and can easily connect with communities to get local support. Added to them is also the Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice Marshal Sadique Abubakar who hails from Bauchi also in the northeast. AVM Abubakar spent many of his formative years in military here in Borno State. He has spent over ten years in Borno, he knows the terrain very well also and connect with the people.
“I think for us, it is now or never because the President has generously put sons of Borno and the northeast to lead the battle for the freedom of Borno, the northeast and the rest of Nigeria, from the murderous threats of insurgents. Insha Allah, with the combined efforts of other competent service chiefs and all Nigerians, the war on terror will soon be won by the supremacy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” Mr. Shettima said.
Boko Haram has in the last one year bombed all major bridges on four of the five highways linking the rest of the world with Maiduguri.
The group has also planted landmines on the roads, killing several travellers.
Maiduguri now hosts over a million internally displaced persons, and now relies only on the Kano-Maiduguri highway for access.
But with the incessant onslaught on the highway by the Boko Haram terrorists, there are fears by residents that even the only relatively safe route might be taken by the terrorists.
Although soldiers have been deployed to Benisheik town, 85 kilometres from Maiduguri, to specifically guard the only bridge along the highway, there are concerns the terrorists might be plotting to attack the bridge.
“If that happens, we are doomed in Maiduguri, because that is the only surviving road that thousands of travellers ply daily,” said Yahaya Garba, a Maiduguri-based automobile mechanic.