•Corpses litter streets —Report
BY NDAHI MARAMA, MAIDUGURI
Atleast 100 people including security operatives were feared killed when suspected members of Boko Haram launched coordinated attacks on Baga, a border town with Chad Republic, last weekend, even as the District Head of Baga, Alhaji Baba Abba Hassan, debunked the report of a second attack on the town which said that over 2,000 people were killed, describing the report as outrageous.
Hassan said, “ Although hundreds of people were killed in the Saturday Boko Haram attack on Baga town in Kukawa local government area of Borno State, there was no second attack on the town”.
He told newsmen on phone that the corpses of those killed still littered the streets and bushes of the town and there was no way to bury them.
He insisted that there was no fresh attack on Baga as reported by some media organisations which put the figure of those killed at 2,000, adding that the actual figure of those killed cannot be ascertain but hundreds of people were killed with many others displaced from their fatherland
The traditional ruler said most of those killed were women and children, saying the insurgents pursued them into the bushes before unleashing terror on them.
He said the information residents received that insurgents from Sambiza forest and Gwoza hills were coming to attack Baga again could not be verified, and prayed for restoration of peace in the land.
Hassan claimed that many of his people had relocated to Chad and Niger Republic, stressing that many drowned in Lake Chad while others were killed in the bushes, while trying to escape.
Also commenting on the Baga attack, the senator represent Borno North, Maina Ma’aji Lawan, on BBC Hausa service monitored in Maiduguri, said, “Nobody can actually tell you the number of the people killed and the number of houses burnt down”.
He, however, thanked God and the Borno government who sent buses to the area to convey the fleeing residents to safer zones.
Investigation revealed that the gunmen, in a convoy of several Toyota Hilux vehicles and pickup vans laden with improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and an armoured personnel carrier (APC),
attacked Baga at dawn, penultimate Saturday, sacking military posts and barracks of the Multinational Joint Task Force (MJTF) with scores of people feared killed.
Baga is on the shores of Lake Chad, and 275 kilometres north of Maiduguri, the Borno capital.
According to Muktar Audu, a survivor who fled to Chad last Sunday afternoon, the gunmen burst into Baga town through Cross Kauwa village and Mile 3 and 4 of MJTF barracks; and attacked the soldiers at their duty posts, before proceeding to Baga to kill any sighted persons.
Audu narrated: “The soldiers at the barracks and their duty posts ran away when the gunmen stormed Mile 3 and 4 areas of of Baga road. Some of the soldiers had to ride motorcycles to flee to Doron Baga Primary School, where other soldiers had fled for safety to take cover. The militants had overpowered the soldiers, and that is why they were begging people with dresses to change; after removing their uniforms, because the militants targeted security personnel, before killing us here, but I was able to escape yesterday morning to Chad with three of my family members in an overloaded boat.”
He said the soldiers did not help matters, as some of them fled along with civilians to Baga and the primary school, while other residents, including women and children, fled to Chad for safety.
He said the militants had planned since last year to attack Baga, even as he spoke of the claim by the MJTF personnel that they could not guarantee the safety of fisher men and other residents in the Lake Chad Basin Area.
“As the time of fleeing, I cannot ascertain the number of people killed yesterday morning, because everyone had to flee to Chad through the lake waters of Chad. Many houses and shops were torched and looted by the insurgents,” said Audu, adding that one of the boats carrying survivors capsized because of overloading, as every fleeing resident wanted to cross to Chad.
Abubakar Gamandi, head of Borno’s fish traders union and a Baga native, confirmed the attacks, adding that hundreds of people who fled were trapped on islands on Lake Chad.