No fewer than 100 young men and 20 teenage girls were kidnapped by the ravaging Boko Haram insurgents in their latest attacks on Doron Baga town of Kukuwa local government area of Borno state.
This is coming as women of Gwoza community yesterday claimed that they have been able to bury 997 persons killed after the insurgents attacked the town.
The abducted persons, according to a source, are to be forcefully recruited into the army of insurgents to continue attacks on the beleaguered Borno communities.
Fleeing residents of the area, who escaped to Maiduguri, disclosed this to newsmen yesterday, maintaining that the whereabouts of the abducted persons remained a mystery.
The angry-looking residents noted that upon invading the town, the militants carried out massive killings and destructions, while men within the ages of 16 and 25 as well as teenage girls were selected and held at a single location.
Halima Alhaji Adamu, a young woman claimed that her husband and six other neighbours were among the 100 kidnapped men, while six teenage girls related to her husband were equally taken away by the rampaging gunmen.
“When the insurgents stormed the town, they started firing sporadic shots into the crowd, while others, were burning houses, shops, vehicles, public structures and other buildings. They also trailed and killed fleeing villagers who attempted escaping into the nearby bush”, she said.
According to her, when the assault was going on, no one realized that some people were abducted, as everyone scampered for safety.
“It was five hours after the attackers fled the town that we began to realise that many people were missing. All I can remember was that when the gunmen invaded the town, my husband went out and told me to stay indoors with our children since the terrorists don’t attack women.
“But when the situation was calmed, I could not reach him, though he was not among the corpses of the 20 identified victims killed in the incident. Several others women and parents also complained that they cannot ascertain the whereabouts of their loved ones.
‘Our suspicion was further heightened when we were unable to find them even as a search and rescue team spent two days searching for them inside the bush without success. We are really devastated”, she cried,’ she said.
The woman said though she has no single relation in Maiduguri, staying at the camps set up for the Internally Displaced Persons, (IDPs) will not be a better option but would prefer to take refuge in Gashua town in Yobe state.
Another fleeing resident, Musa Goni, said after unleashing terror on Doron Baga community, the insurgent also raided neighbouring Hadaija village, killing several other villagers, before abducting unspecified numbers of young men.
“They killed six people in my family, but can’t say the casualty figures in other households”, Goni said.
In a related development, a resident of Gwoza yesterday revealed that about 997 persons have been buried by women survivors in Gwoza.
According to the man who spoke with BBC Hausa Service monitored in Jos, apart from the 997 dead bodies buried, there were other countless bodies lying on the ground unattended to.
The resident who did not want his identity revealed told the BBC’s Muktar Adamu Bawa that he was informed by his mother who was among the women that had the funeral of the victims in Gwoza.
He said ” when members of Boko Haram invaded Gwoza, they started killing innocent people and burning houses including other valuable properties.
“Some people who were able to escape from the attack had fled to hilltops and some of us to the bush seeking for cover. I managed to hide in a nearby bush for 8 days without food and water.
“My mother who participated in burying the victims of the attack told me that she and other women in Gwoza buried 997 dead bodies apart from other ones lying and began to get rotten on the ground. She said their style of burial didn’t neccessite going to the burial ground. She said where ever they saw dead bodies, they dug a place and buried them” , he added
The escapee further explained that the real Gwoza was gone and only history would give the picture of Gwoza because houses and other valuable properties in the community had been destroyed and burnt; some stolen by the insurgents, adding that for the area to be called Gwoza, it must be restructured to answer its previous name.
BBC’s Muktar Bawa reported that those fleeing residents who had been on the hilltops were facing serious difficulties adding that there has been no food and water to sustain them. He said NEMA had complained that it had no means to reach the hilltops where the fleeing victims were hiding due to the threat of the insurgents along the road.
Meanwhile, fleeing residents of the Gwoza attack yesterday told newsmen that not a single security operative was deployed, 10 days after the Boko Haram insurgents had chased away soldiers and captured the town.
The fleeing residents, who arrived Maiduguri, the Borno state capital from Gombe, where they escaped since the attack, disputed the claims by the military that troops were now deployed to the town, fighting terrorists.
The residents who were brought in to Maiduguri by a Maiduguri-based human rights activist, Prof. Hauwa Biu, described the military claims as a ‘mere’ propaganda.
They alleged that the plot was aimed at deceiving Nigerians and international communities of the Federal Government failure to accepts its failure in the fight against insurgency.
One of the residents, Zakariya Ibrahim, insisted that there was no military presence in town since the insurgents struck, saying “except if the military authorities want to tell Nigerians that those occupying the troubled town are not Boko Haram insurgents”.
Ibrahim cautioned military against peddling false information on the actual situation on ground in Gwoza, saying Boko Haram remained the ‘authority’ controlling the affairs in the town unhindered.
“For the past 10 days the area turned to new ‘enclave’ for the terrorists, our people who were still stranded on the hills after escaping there told us that there was no sign of a single security personnel. It was destiny that kept them alive till now, as they escaped being killed by the whiskers.
What we have seen with our eyes is something we never thought we could see in our life time. Corpses are littered everywhere in the town, and every street have been turned into a graveyard. It was the women who are burying corpses as no able man is spared by the sect members who took control of our town”, he said.
Narrating their ordeals, he said, they started hearing the sound of gunshots at about 5:pm that fateful day while they were sitting in front of their shops. “Before you know it, they are everywhere and we took to our heels those who fall by their bullets we could not wait to carry, and those of us who are still alive did not know how we made it to the mountains.
We get there anyway, some with broken limbs others with torn muscles and some of us with broken arm or gunshot wounds. They pursued us to the mountains and we continued through the night until God, in his mercy, helped us to escape.”
Another escapee, Binta Sani explained that, they ran with her sisters because the sect members told them that they were bringing their women to settle with them in the town.
Responding to question on the veracity of the number of causalities buried by the women, Director for Defence Information, Gen. Chris Olukolade, in a text message stated “I cannot confirm these alleged causalities please. All I can tell you at the moment is that all efforts are being made to ensure that peace, law and order return to Gwoza and other communities in a short while.”