Hierarchy of the Nigerian Army has said there was no cause for alarm over the coordinated attacks on Maiduguri, Borno State capital Wednesday night by the Boko Haram terrorists, stressing its men have “neutralized” the attackers.
Wednesday’s attacks are the most daring by Boko Haram on Maiduguri in recent years since the military retook most of the territory once controlled by the terror group.
In a statement by Brig Gen. Sani Usman, Army spokesperson said: “In a merciless operation, Nigerian troops have neutralized Boko Haram gunmen who attempted to attack Jiddari Polo community in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital,” Army spokesperson Sani Usman said.
“There was an attempt by a few suspected Boko Haram to attack Jiddari Polo and all have been neutralized. Situation cool and calm.”
The Army confirmed that residents of the area had planned to flee their homes but “were reassured with rapid response of Nigerian troops.”Usman assured that there was heavy security presence in the area and the situation was now under control.
The coordinated attacks occurred at the Jiddari Polo area of the city, Chad Basin Development Authority area, among other places, with the Army saying it repelled the attackers ‘neutralising’ many of them.
Several residents in the Jiddari Polo area fled their homes during the attack, but were later asked to return by the army.
While the Army may have repelled the Boko Haram in Jiddari Polo, the terror group appears to have succeeded at the Maiduguri-Gamboru, which lies on the eastern axis of the city. Boko Haram insurgents armed with deadly explosives found their way into different mosques in that area and detonated themselves while scores of Muslims congregated to observe Ramadan night prayers.
The total casualty has not been officially provided, but residents said about a dozen corpses were evacuated by rescue officials.
Abba Shehu, a private security personnel in Maiduguri, said he could not count the number of injured that were dumped on the corridors of the already filled accident and emergency ward of the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital when he visited Thursday morning.
“It is a horrible sight we have here”, he said.
“I could not count the number of injured casualties at the accident and emergency ward; most of them sitting on the floor as the place is crowded and no bed to properly admit them.
“The incident happened at a mosque located opposite the Chad Basin Development Authority headquarters, where my parents live. When I had about the blast and I could not reach my parents, I had to rush down to the hospital to see those affected”.
A witness who lives at the Chad Basin Development Authority (CBDA) quarters, Alhaji Bashir, said there were four suicide attacks that occurred in different locations around the CBDA headquarters.
“The incident happened at about some minutes to 9 p.m. when we were about to round up the prayers”, he said.
“Suicide bombers came to our area and attacked four locations; one was a mosque opposite Chad Basin, one inside the Lake Chad Research Institute, another one inside the CBDA and one at Goni-Kachallari opposite the College of Agriculture.
“The injured casualty that we have now at the Teaching Hospital was about 37 persons from the four different location. About six persons were confirmed dead”.
He said the suicide bomber that attacked the CBDA quarters came at about some 8:45 p.m. and was sighted by the youth guarding the worshippers as he was walking quickly towards the mosque.
“The boys sighted him rushing to invade the worshippers, and one of the youth vigilante rushed to hold him.
“The bomb went off killing the suicide bomber and three other persons. That of the opposite Chad Basin came to a gathering of people at Coffee Vendor’s and detonated him. The explosion killed the bomber and affected a mosque and shops in the area.
“At the Lake Chad Research Institute, the suicide bomber invaded the quarters but met most of the houses locked up, so he managed to attack a house and killed himself and one other person. The one that occurred opposite the College happened as worshippers ended their prayers and were leaving, when a female suicide bomber went in to their midst and detonated the bomb, which killed her and one other person; many were also injured”, he said.
Th Borno State police spokesperson, Victor Isukwu, confirmed the incidents but without details.