April 3, 2018.
The military yesterday said no fewer than 20 persons, including a soldier, were killed on Sunday night in a battle to ward off a large number of suicide bombers trying to invade Maiduguri, the Borno State capital. About 84 others were injured.
Soldiers on the outskirts of Maiduguri also gunned down six armed Boko Haram gunmen and seven suicide bombers during the attack, bringing the death toll on both sides to 29.
Residents of Maiduguri were forced to keep vigil all Sunday night following hours of thunderous explosions and shootings that rented the air till early hours of Monday.
The military said Boko Haram suicide bombers and gunmen attempted to invade Maiduguri through the outskirts of Bille-Shuwa and Alikaranti villages.
“Eighteen Boko Haram terrorists on foot attacked the military base while seven suicide bombers targeted residents of nearby Bale Shuwar and Alikaranti villages at 8:50 pm (1950 GMT),” said the officer, who asked not to be identified as he was not authorized to speak about the incident.
“The terrorists fired mortars at troops,” the officer said.
Bello Dambatto, the chief security officer at the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), told AFP that an initial death toll of 18 had risen to 20 after two people died in hospital from their wounds.
The police confirmed 20 persons killed and 84 injured.
Commissioner of Police Damian Chukwu said five mutilated bodies of male suicide bombers were recovered and two Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) vests were diffused by men of the command at the scene of the attack.
He said: “On 01/04/2018 at about 20:20 pm; Boko Haram terrorists in an attempt to infiltrate into Maiduguri through Bale Kura, Bale Shuwari, Jamine and Alkaramti villages in Jere local government area of the state, in the outskirts of Maiduguri detonated IEDs.
“They were promptly repelled by military and police reinforcement. In the process, about 84 persons were injured and 20 others killed.”
Chukwu added that normalcy had been restored to the area and called on people to go about their lawful businesses
Operation Lafiya Dole spokesman Col. Onyema Nwachukwu said the attackers would have made it into more crowded areas of Maiduguri had the troops deployed along the attacked axis not repelled them.
Survivors of the attack said most of those killed in the suicide attack were youth who were at a viewing center when the suicide bombers infiltrated them as they were fleeing upon hearing gunshots between soldiers and the Boko Haram fighters.
“The gunmen came with the suicide bombers, and as they were engaged by soldiers, some of them sneaked into the confused fleeing crowd and detonated themselves killing about 15 people and over 80 others,” said Momodu Bukar, an operative of Civilian-JTF.
Col. Nwachukwu said the attackers were on a mission to carry out a major attack on Maiduguri.
“Troops of Operation Lafiya Dole deployed in the Cashew Plantation around Bille Shuwa and Alikaranti villages have quashed an attempt by Boko Haram terrorists to penetrate Maiduguri metropolis yesterday at about 8.10 pm,” he said.
“The insurgents met with stiff resistance of troops who killed 6 of the insurgents and neutralized 7 suicide bombers in the encounter. The troops also recovered 2 AK 47 rifles and 2 magazines.”
The United Nations Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Mr. Yassine Gaba condemned the deadly attack.
A statement by Mr Abiodun Banire, the National Public Information Officer, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Abuja, quoted Gaba as saying that since the beginning of the year, no fewer than 120 civilians were reportedly killed while more than 210 sustained serious injuries in more than 22 attacks allegedly carried out by non-state armed groups.
”Innocent civilians continue to suffer daily from direct and indiscriminate attacks in the North-east of Nigeria.”
‘’Endless numbers of explosions, brutal killings, abductions and looting continue to uproot the lives of women, children, and men daily.”
“I call on all parties to the conflict to end this violence and to respect human life and dignity.”
“The protection of civilians is a major focus of the ongoing humanitarian response in the north-east of Nigeria where 7.7 million people remain in direct need of humanitarian assistance, including food, shelter, water, and healthcare, in the most conflict-affected states of Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe,” he said.
According to him, women, children, and men face daily grave human rights violations and sexual and gender-based violence.
He said that since the start of the conflict in 2009, more than 20,000 people had been killed, thousands of girls, women, boys, and men abducted, while children continue to be used routinely as so-called “suicide” bombers.
Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima described the attack as “sad, inhuman”
Speaking during his visit to the victims of the attack at the Specialist Hospital, Maiduguri, the governor said: “It is very sad which no any sensible human being could inflict on another person; such level of dexterity, such level of atrocity but this is a war between light and darkness, and in the fullness of time truth shall always triumph over falsehood.
“We have repeatedly said they have been sufficiently decimated and these decimated monsters berks in the oxygen of publicity they are targeting soft targets, senselessly and criminally opening fire on innocent souls.”
“Yesterday, we witnessed that very sad episode, we will continue to intensify our efforts to safeguard life and property, and we are talking with security agencies that are doing their utmost best to secure the state.”
“Appreciable progress has been made but such hiccups are inevitable. I will visit the communities to see what measures need to be put in place to forestall future occurrence,” he said.