From Mustapha Isah Kwaru, Maiduguri
Over 50 villagers and scores of soldiers attached to the Multinational Joint Task Force, (MNJTF) were reportedly killed on Saturday morning by suspected Boko Haram insurgents who invaded Baga town in Kukawa Local Government Area of Borno State, residents and security sources told newsmen.
Our correspondent reported that Baga town, located along the Lake Chad shore in the northern Borno senatorial district is farming and fishing community. It had suffered several deadly attacks in the past. In November last year, the terrorists had ambushed and slit the throats of 48 fishermen.
In the latest incident sources said over 300 insurgents, armed with sophisticated weapons and explosives, have driven into the area in three armored vehicles, 50 Toyata Hilux vehicles and several motorcyles, before launching daring attack on the headquarters of the MNJTF.
Similarly, anti-air craft guns, General Purpose Machine Gubs, (GPMG) and other assault rifles were mounted on some of the vehicles used in the attack.
Residents who escaped the siege said scores of security forces were killed, while others wounded when the militants attacked the military base, forcing the soldiers to flee.
It was also learnt that the troops were taken unawares and that though they attempted to repel the attack, were however overpowered following high number of the insurgents and superior firearms used by the invaders.
“Several soldiers were killed during the encounter and others wounded but can’t say if there is any casualty recorded from the side of the militants. All I know was that Boko Haram fighters have dislodged the military from the barrack, with the soldiers fleeing into various locations. Presently, the militants are now in control of the base”, a resident, Goni Kachallah said.
It was also gathered that after dislodging the security forces, the invaders stormed Baga and other neigbboring villages, shooting everyone at sight. Similarly tabout 210 houses, many shops and stalls were also destroyed with explosive devices and petrol bombs.
The attack which started around 6am lasted till 12pm survivors said. Some villagers who escaped the attack. “As I talk to you now, people have deserted the village while dead bodies litter the streets”, Musa Bulama, a villager who escaped to Maiduguri told newsmen. “Beside the over dead bodies that I saw, many traders and residents sustained burns,” he said.
Another survivor, Mallam Mustapha Modu said: “I personally counted over 50 dead bodies, while fleeing to villages of neigboring Chad while several others sustained gunshots.
“Besides three armored vehicles used during the onslaght, the terrorists were armed with AK47 rifles, Improvised Explosive Devices, (IEDs) and petrol bombs. They entered the community and wrecked havoc”, he alledged.
According to residents, the number of death might rise as other fleeing villagers died in the bush when they were trailed and shot by the gunmen.
Similarly others who entered canoes to escape into Chad through coastal areas were drowned after the insurgents fired sporadic shots at their direction.
Senator Maina Ma’aji Lawan in an interview with BBC report monitored in Maiduguri, confirmed the incident, saying military and youth volunteers, popularly known as ‘civilian JTF, have attempted to repel the onslaught, but were overpowered by the invaders.
“This is indeed a sad moment for my people who plunged into bloodshed by the insurgents. Security forces with active support of the youth have been working hard to protect the area from several attacks in the past. But due to the large numbers of the terrorists and dangerous weapons they used in the latest onslaught these patriotic persons were unable to resist them”, Senator Lawan said.
“We are calling on the Federal Government to provide relief materials for the displaced persons and expedite quick action and liberate the area so that our people can return to normal life”, he further appealed.