From Mustapha Isah Kwaru, Maiduguri
Soldiers attached to the 231 Batallion of the Nigerian Army, Biu in Borno state yesterday killed unspecified numbers of suspected Boko Haram insurgents, who attempted to capture the military barracks, security sources and residents of the area told newsmen.
The incident has thrown residents into confusion as horrifying sounds thunderous explosions and gunshots forced residents to flee into the bushes, while others stayed indoors.
Biu, a local government in southern senatorial district of the state is about 200 kilometers from Maiduguri and had witnessed series of attacks in the past allegedly perpetrated by the militants.
Records show that this was the first time the military base which is under the supervision of the 23 Armored Brigades, Yola came under such attack.
However, sources said the latest incident occurred around 7am when large numbers of insurgents, armed with sophisticated weapons and dressed in military uniforms, disguising as federal troops reportedly emerged from their base along Gombe road.
The militants have reportedly arrived in the area in Toyota Hilux vehicles and pick-up vans, before carrying out the onslaught.
It was gathered that the local government secretariat and the police divisional headquarters in the town were the first targets of the onslaught.
A resident who declined identification told our correspondent on phone that both the two public buildings were set on fire by the rampaging gunmen.
“Upon invading the town, the insurgents did not target individuals rather they headed to the divisional police office and fired sporadic shots into the facility. Though the policemen on duty attempted to repel the attack, but fled the scene upon being overpowered due to the superior firearms of the attackers.
After detonating explosives inside the police post and setting it on fire, the invaders also proceeded to the local government secretariat and carried out similar attack. But thank Almighty Allah that no one was affected as no single staff come to work”, the resident said.
However, there were conflicting reports whether the insurgents have actual gained access into the military barracks or not.
Another resident, who simply gave his name as Musa Ahmad said after razing the government buildings, the gunmen proceeded to the military barrack and fired sporadic shots into the direction of the troops, station at the entrance.
“The insurgents did not enter into the barracks; rather they only attacked soldiers guarding the entrance, who instantly fired back. This has attracted other troops who quickly arrived in the scene and engaged the insurgents in a gun-duel. Several of them were killed but can’t precisely say the figures, while others abandoned their weapons and vehicles, before escaping with gunshot injuries.
Another source had it that soldiers and members of the youth volunteers, popularly known as Civilian JTF ambushed the attackers before reaching the barracks.
“The soldiers and the youth waylaid the militant on their way to attack the military base, a gun battle ensued between the two groups with heavy casualty recorded from the side of the Boko Haram fighters, while no one was hurt from our side”, a youth vigilante, Bukar Mohammed who participated in the encounter said.”
“I can confirm to you that after the confrontation, several dead bodies of the insurgents littered the scene. It will be very difficult to ascertain the precise number of the insurgents killed because the surviving ones succeeded in taking away other corpses of their colleagues. But we retrieved 11 vehicles and several weapons, abandoned by the fleeing militants,” he further added.