By Kingsley Omonobi, with agency reports
ABUJA—The Police High Command in Abuja, yesterday, confirmed that 38 Police officers were killed during Monday and Tuesday’s attacks on Damaturu and Maiduguri by Boko Haram terrorists, who targeted police stations and other security agencies. More than 150 persons, including two medical doctors, a staff of the Federal Polytechnic, Damaturu and his two children were also killed during the attacks, a rescue official and a health worker told AFP.
The Police confirmation came just as a top security personnel confided in Vanguard that about 60 terrorists were killed by troops of the Nigerian Army backed by Air Force helicopters, thereby successfully repelling the terrorists from both towns.
The military has also raised the alarm that the Boko Haram terrorist group was getting both human and equipment reinforcements from Chad as many of their members either captured or killed in battle turned out to be Chadian citizens or mercenaries.
Police confirms 38 officers dead
Confirming police casualties during the terrorists’ attacks on Damaturu, Yobe State capital, Force Public Relations Officer, CP Emmanuel Ojukwu in a telephone chat with Vanguard, said that “the 38 policemen were killed in battle with the insurgents while fighting jointly with other security agencies to ensure Boko Haram did not succeed in taking Damaturu and infiltrating Maiduguri.”
Eyewitness reports had indicated that during the attacks on Damaturu and Maiduguri, the terrorists swooped on some police stations and targeted the armouries before setting the stations ablaze.
A senior rescue official and a medical source at Sani Abacha Specialist Hospital, Damaturu said 115 bodies were brought to the morgue after Monday’s attack, although it was not clear whether they were insurgents or civilians.
“All 115 were in civilian clothing, but it was not certain whether they were all non-combatants and among the dead were two medical doctors, a staff member of the federal polytechnic in the Yobe State capital, and his two children. Six soldiers were also killed”, the sources added.
The medical source said it was “likely” that most of the 115 persons who died were insurgents.
Rescue team still searching for more bodies
He added: “Rescue teams are still looking in the bushes around the city for more bodies. It’s believed that people might have died from gunshot wounds while trying to flee.”
The senior rescue official said 78 people were injured. Of those 53 were treated and discharged.
Most of the policemen killed were at the Mobile Police base in the Gujba Road area of the city, according to the police spokesman, Emmanuel Ojukwu, confirming eye-witness accounts from residents that the facility was attacked.
Monday’s raid came just hours before two female suicide bombers attacked a market in Maiduguri, less than a week after two other women hit the same location, killing more than 45.
Also, a top security source said soldiers from the 7 Division of the Nigerian Army, stationed in Kawuri which is the major town before Konduga got wind of the plot by the terrorists to invade Konduga, from where they would advance to Maiduguri.
Konduga, which is the closest town to Maiduguri from the eastern part of the capital, has been the scene of several fierce battles. It was gathered that the terrorists were determined to capture Konduga, because if the town falls and Maiduguri is invaded, it would be difficult for the military to retake Maiduguri because the fight back will come through Konduga that would become their ambush base.
A military source in Maiduguri and a civilian vigilante both confirmed the attack in Konduga and said it was a likely reprisal for the failed Damaturu raid.
Konduga, 35 kilometres (20 miles) from Maiduguri, has been attacked repeatedly in recent months but has high military presence.
Musa Yohanna, who fled Lassa on Tuesday to the Adamawa State capital, Yola, said the attack on his town followed a previous unsuccessful raid on Saturday.
The attack on Konduga left scores of militants dead, according to a military source and a civilian vigilante, while one resident said many civilians were feared killed in the town of Lassa.
Why curfew was lifted
Abdullahi Bego, spokesman for the Yobe State Governor, Ibrahim Gaidam, told AFP the curfew on the town was lifted “following the return to normalcy”.
Vanguard gathered that yesterday morning, troops in Konduga, Borno State destroyed a vehicle laden with Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) meant for suicide bombing operation by the terrorists.
“This is the latest incident in the series of recent attempts by terrorists to make incursions into the town and other surrounding communities”, a source said.
The source disclosed that an undisclosed number of terrorists were killed, noting that no personnel or civilian was affected in yesterday’s incident.
A top military source who commented on the development, urged residents to always report suspicious movements as well as strange people to appropriate authorities for investigation and appropriate actions.
He said: “What we need from Nigerians is their support, their encouragement and prayers to enable us overcome this insanity from unrepentant terrorists.”