From Mustapha Isah Kwaru Maiduguri
Yesterday’s peaceful Christmas festivities in Maiduguri, Borno state, was suddenly disturbed by the reports of Boko Haram insurgents attacking Molai, a village 5km away from the state capital.
Our correspondent reports that he attack began at about 5.30pm when distant sounds of gun shootings pierced through the cold hazy weather in to township.
Several military patrol vehicles and members of the youth vigilante popularly known as Civilian JTF were seen trooping to the area.
Fleeing residents of the area told newsmen that the attack was being launched by a large number of Boko Haram gunmen.
Though details of the attack was not immediately available as at press time, residents said large number of insurgents, armed with assault rifles and explosives attacked a military location, leading to a gun-duel.
Sources said the residents were thrown into intense fears following endless sounds of gun shots and explosives.
“When the sounds becomes more horrifying we have to abandone our homes and carry the little of our belongings and flee into the town for fear of the unknown”, the resident said.
Member of the vigilante group who spoke on condition of anonynimity said the attack was anticipated during the Christmas Day celebrations.
He explained that warning was sent into the city long before now that the attacks on the city during the Yuletide would come from two directions and one of them was Molai along Maiduguri-Biu highway.
“As I am talking to you now the attack is on, but thank God that our soldiers have been effectively mobilised towards that area and they are currently engaging them. We knew it would come because there was a rumour about it that Boko Haram would attack during Christmas and they would do so from Molai and the airport axis”, the vigilante members noted.
Residents living close to the area, mainly women and children fleeing the direction on tricycle moving at neck breaking speed against the traffic of soldiers and Civilian JTF trucks that were heading towards the battle area.
A panicked driver ran out of control and ran into another oncoming vehicle forcing all of them into a ditch near Sheraton Hotel.
The attack happened as the Chief of army staff, lieutenant general, Tukur Buratai visited Gwoza in Borno state to celebrate the Christmas with troops on the front line.
However, reports said yesterday that the attack has been successfully repelled by soldiers.
A witness, Aji Maina, told the News Agency of Nigeria that the insurgents attacked and shot sporadically, a situation which made the villagers to scamper for safety and flee their homes.
Mr. Maina said that the residents of Molai and adjourning villages had to run into Polo and other areas of Maiduguri for safety.
He, however, said that soldiers deployed to the area engaged the insurgents and repelled the attack.
“The insurgents attacked the ED security section, torched houses and motorists caught in the cross fire.
“At present, no one can ascertain the extent of damages or casualties in the attack.