At least 300 people were confirmed dead on Monday night when Boko Haram gunmen driven in armoured vehicles stormed Gamborou Ngala town in Borno state.
The insurgents had targeted a local market and fired sporadic shots into the crowd before proceeding into the town to wreak more havoc.
This came just as gunmen reportedly invaded Warabe village in Gwoza local government area of Borno state near one of their strongholds and abducted eight girls.
The latest abduction is just three weeks after some insurgents stormed Government Girls Secondary Chibok, also in Borno state and kidnapped over 200 students.
And while President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan yesterday accepted the offer of help from the United States of America in the ongoing effort to locate and rescue the girls abducted from the Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok three weeks ago, the U.S. mission in Nigeria and some select Northern governors will tonight meet in Abuja to discuss wide range of issues, including insecurity, the Nigerian Ambassador to the U.S., Prof Ade Adefuye, has said.
Gamborou, which is situated along Nigeria-Cameroon border is the administrative headquarters of Ngala local government of the state, about 200km from Maiduguri, the capital city.
Senator Ahmed Zannah, who represents area confirmed the killings, saying the invaders spent 12 hours wreaking havoc on defenceless civilians.
He said several other persons were also injured in the attack, while almost all the houses and shops in the town were burnt down.
Senator Zannah, who spoke in a BBC Hausa report monitored in Maiduguri yesterday said many people were wounded, while surviving victims were rendered homeless as thousands of houses and shops were burnt by the rampaging gunmen.
He said the attackers were armed with dangerous weapons comprising of Armoured Personnel Carrie, (APC), Improvised Explosive Devices, (IEDs), petrol bombs, assault rifles and Rocket Propelled Launchers (RPGs).
“The attackers stormed the communities in the night when residents were still sleeping, setting ablaze houses and shot residents who tried to escaped from the fire,” he said.
He added:“ about 300 persons were confirmed dead after the incident, with several others injured. Almost all the houses in the communities were destroyed by the hoodlums who threw Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) at the buildings.
“My brother who was at the scene of the attack told me that the actual number of the dead cannot be ascertained but that at least they are up to 300. In fact as we spoke he wept following the high number of the dead bodies which littered the market”, he declared.
According to him, the security forces earlier deployed to area, moved to the Lake Chad axis when they received intelligence report that some gunmen were sighted with abducted schoolgirls moving to the area.
“Initially there were many security operatives in the town to secure it from possible attacks. However upon receiving information over the movements of insurgents with kidnapped Chibok schoolgirls towards Lake Chad area, they withdrew and moved further to confront the gunmen.
It was just an hour after their withdrawal that the terrorists invaded the town, shooting everyone at sight and setting buildings on fire. So far 200 vehicles and thousands of houses, shops and an outfit of the Nigerian Customs Service, (NCS) were all burnt”, he explained.
A local government official who declined identification also confirmed the casualty figures.
“It is really a terrible situation, we had wanted to rush relief materials to the area to provide temporary succour to the victims. But we were prevailed upon by security agents to shelve our plans for security reasons”.
The official appealed to the state and Federal Government to assist the area with resources towards rehabilitating the victims.
Regarding the fresh abduction of eight girls, our correspondent learnt that gunmen also carted away foodstuff and livestocks including chickens belonging to the villagers before fleeing into the bush.
Warabe is about 160 kilometres from Maiduguri, the state capital which had witnessed series of attacks by suspected terrorists in recent times.
When contacted, Borno state Police Commissioner, Lawal Tanko said he was not aware of the incident.
Though details of the incident was not immediately available as at press time, however residents of the area who spoke to newsmen on phone insisted that eight of their daughters were taken away by unknown gunmen.
Malam Bello Umar claimed to have witnessed the incident saying that he was among those who fled the village after the gunmen abducted the girls and fired sporadic shots into the air.
“A group of suspected terrorists invaded Warabe village on Sunday night and abducted eight of our teenage girls before carting away large quantities of assorted foodstuffs and livestock”, he said.
He said that the gunmen numbering over 20 armed with AK47 rifles stormed the village but did not kill anybody.
According to him, they only abducted the girls and fired warning shots in the air before fleeing towards the hilly areas.
“As I am talking to you now, parents of the captives were already identified and that Muslim and Christians in the area have embarked on extensive prayers, seeking divine intervention over the unfortunate incident”, he further explained.
The military’s inability to find the girls in three weeks, has led to protests in the northeast, Abuja and Lagos.
Meanwhile, Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume, representing Borno South, has confirmed the abduction of eight girls by suspected Boko Haram insurgents in Warabe village, Gwoza local government area of Borno state.
Though the state Police Commissioner, Lawal Tanko refuted the incident, however Senator Ndume who hails from the local government and represent the area, confirmed it.
The senator who spoke in a BBC Hausa report monitored in Maiduguri, explained that he contacted the secretary of the local government over the issue, who in turn, said eight ladies including a bride were indeed kidnapped by the insurgents.
“When I heard report over the incident, I quickly contacted the secretary of the council and asked if it was really true some girls were taken way.
The secretary told me that it was true that some gunmen stormed Warabe village on Sunday night and kidnapped eight girls, including a bride.”
He added that the council scribe said one of the ladies succeeded in escaping from the captors, but had a fracture in the process of escaping.
Meanwhile, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan yesterday welcomed and accepted a definite offer of help from the United States of America in the ongoing effort to locate and rescue the girls abducted from the Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok three weeks ago.
According to a statement signed by Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity), Reuben Abati, the offer from President Barack Obama which was conveyed to President Jonathan by the United States Secretary of State, Mr. John Kerry in a telephone conversation which began at 15.30 Hours yesterday, included the deployment of U.S. security personnel and assets to work with their Nigerian counterparts in the search and rescue operation.
The statement said Mr. Kerry assured President Jonathan that the United States’ is wholly committed to giving Nigeria all required support and assistance to save the abducted girls and bring the reign of terror unleashed on parts of the country by Boko Haram to an end.
After speaking with the United States Secretary of State, President Jonathan today met with the Chief of Defence Staff, Service Chiefs and heads of national security agencies in continuation of the national efforts to find and rescue the abducted girls.
The President received updates on the ongoing search and rescue effort, and gave approval for recommended further actions.
The U.S. mission in Nigeria and some select Northern governors will tonight meet in Abuja to discuss wide range of issues, the Nigerian Ambassador to the U.S., Prof Ade Adefuye, has said.
Adefuye told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) yesterday in Abuja that the meeting was a follow up to last month’s meeting between U.S. officials and some Northern governors in Washington D.C.
“The U.S. is very much committed in the stability and development of Nigeria and they have not reneged in strengthening areas of shared mutual concerns and interests,’’ he told NAN.