NIGERIA: 185 Killed, 2000 Houses Razed In Borno Town As Soldiers And Boko Haram Fight

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At least 185
persons including women and children were reported to have been killed by
either gunshots or fire after suspected Boko Haram gunmen engaged soldiers of
the Joint Task Force in a deadly shootout that left the commercial border town
of Baga in Borno State completely burnt down.

Local government
officials, who spoke to PREMIUM TIMES, said 185 persons died, at least 2000
houses, 64 motorcycles and 40 cars were burnt in the wake of the attack.

The Borno State
Governor, Kashim Shettima, visited the town on Sunday and was told by residents
that soldiers were responsible for the torching of houses that led to the death
of many.


PREMIUM TIMES
gathered that scores of others are currently hospitalised with various shades
of burnt injuries.

Residents said
most casualties, especially the aged ones and children, died as a result of the
conflagration that engulfed the entire town.

Governor Kashim
Shettima, who visited the town on Sunday, became emotionally drenched at the
sight of charred houses,vehicles and how homeless residents took refuge in the
bush.

The Commander of
the Task Force, Brigadier General Austin Edokpaye, explained that the fire that
consumed the town and resultant deaths should be blamed on the Boko Haram
terrorists who opened fire on soldiers while hiding in the mix of civilians.

A local trader in
Baga told PREMIUM TIMES that the attack started at about 8 p.m. on Friday and
was continued the next day.

“Only God can
understand what we have done to deserve this. But the soldiers were mindless
that night in their approach; they killed and burnt our houses, chased everyone
into the bush including women and children. So far we have buried 185 corpses.
– some were burnt beyond recognition; others are hospitalised with various
degrees of burnt,” said the resident who begged to remain anonymous.

Governor Shettima
who drove through the burnt town amidst heavy motorcade of security personnel
condemned the incident which he said was a ‘nasty occurrence’.

At the town’s
hospital, the governor had to commiserate with women, children and aged men
receiving treatment for various degrees of burnt caused by the fire.

Bashir Isa, a grocery
merchant, told PREMIUM TIMES that “everyone has been in the bush since Friday
night; we started returning back to town because the governor came to town
today.

“To get food to
eat in the town now is a problem because even the markets are burnt. We are
still picking corpses of women and children in the bush and creeks.”

Brigadier General
Edokpaye denied allegations by residents that the shootout was unprovoked.

“We lost an
officer during the attack on our men on patrol. We’ve received an intelligence
that some suspected Boko Haram members usually pray and hide arms at a
particular mosque in town. It was around that mosque that our men were attacked
with several of them injured and an officer died.

“When we
reinforced and returned to the scene, the terrorists came out with heavy
firepower including RPGs which usually has a conflagration effect,” the army
chief said.

Governor Shettima
pleaded with fleeing residents to return to their burnt homes as a committee
had been empannelled to provide a palliative compensation for the loss they
suffered.

He also called on
the commander to “take full charge” of his operation and ensure he personally
supervises his field officers from time to time “in order to avert such nasty
incidences in the future.”

 

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