At least 17 people died and 18 others seriously injured as suspected Boko Haram terrorists attacked a vigilante group guarding Benisheik Town, 72km west of Maiduguri, victims and government officials said.
The spokesman of the newly formed 7th Division of the Nigerian Army, Lt Col. Sagir Musa, who confirmed the attack, said six vigilante, called ‘Civilian-JTF,’ and five Boko Haram members died.
The terrorists attacked the town, in Kaga Local Government Area, at about 12:30 a.m. on Sunday.
A PREMIUM TIMES reporter who visited the Accident and Emergency, A&E, Unit of the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital saw many of the injured as the 12-bed hospital unit could barely cater for the victims.
An injured Civilian-JTF member, Zannah Fannami, told journalists at the hospital that the attack took place at about 12:30 a.m. on Sunday.
“Boko Haram gunmen, carrying sophisticated arms, opened fire on us killing 12 of our members. We were able to kill five of them and took possession of their four AK47 rifles,” he said.
Another Civilian-JTF operative, Muhammed Abuwar, 32, who had injuries on his arm and leg said “the military had agreed to watch and lay in ambush with us against the Boko Haram; but when the attackers came none of them came over to assist us.”
Garba Ngamdu, an adviser on labour to the Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima, also confirmed the attack when he visited the A&E unit of the hospital.
“We left our people back at home trying to bury the 12 dead men killed by the Boko Haram. The Civilian JTF had succeeded in killing five of the Boko Haram attackers using their machetes; three of their corpses still lie there in the outskirts of the town, while we learnt that they ran away with two others,”Mr. Ngamdu, an indigene of Kaga Local Government Area, said.
“One of the 18 injured persons brought to the hospital by local government officials died at about 4 p.m. while doctors were trying to remove bullets from sensitive parts of his body,” he added.
The road leading to Benisheik, on the Kano-Maiduguri Expressway, was barricaded on Sunday by angry members of the youth vigilante who protested the killing of their colleagues thus forcing travellers to return home.
A military helicopter was seen hovering towards the direction of Benisheik.
Reacting to the incident, the Army spokesman, Mr. Musa, said “Information available to 7th Division of Nigeria Army revealed that at about 12:30am suspected members of BH terrorists deceptively attacked Youth vigilante at Benisheik headquarters of Kaga local government area of Borno state.”
“Following the attack, 6 vigilante members and five Boko Haram terrorists were killed.
“Some elements of 21 Brigade troops have been drafted to the area and the attack was repelled. Troops are still combing the general area in search of fleeing terrorists.
“Further details of the matter would be made available as event unfold,” he added.
Mr. Musa confirmed that “The Damaturu-Maiduguri road was barricaded by members of the vigilante at Benisheik until the troops were able to persuade them to clear the road.”
He said normalcy has since returned to area.