By Inusa Ndahi, Maiduguri
The people of Dalori village, near Maiduguri, Borno State capital, will not forget in hurry what befell them on Saturday, February 2, 2016.
On that day, terrorists stormed their community at about 6:20pm and unleashed deadly attacks before they were repelled by troops.
Dalori is the ancestral home of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Chairman in the state, Alhaji Ali Bukar Dalori.
It lies south east and is about 10km from Maiduguri. The area also hosts thousands of Internally Displaced Persons. Sunday Vanguard learnt that about 200 people were killed when suicide bombers sneaked into a crowd in Dalori and detonated their explosives. The suicide bombings were preceded by gunmen on motorcycles and two cars who stormed the community, opening fire indiscriminately and burning houses.
The spokesman for the 7 Division, Nigerian Army, under the ‘Operation Lafiya Dole’, Colonel Mustapha Anka, in a statement, confirmed the attacks. He said, “In their desperate efforts for reprisal attacks on strong, determined and committed members of the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) and innocent citizens, on Saturday, February 2, 2016, Boko Haram terrorists launched attacks on Dalori through Yale.
Meanwhile, sources at University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital (UMTH) said more than 120 burnt dead bodies were brought in from Dalori, while at the State Specialist Hospital, Maiduguri, sources at the mortuary confirmed not less than 65 dead bodies brought in.
The insurgents, according to Anka, came in two cars, motorcycles, opening fire and burning houses.
The Army spokesperson said, “While people were running for their dear lives to Gomari Kerkeri village, three female suicide bombers made their way into the crowd and blew up themselves, leaving many innocent civilians dead and injured.
“During the incident, lives were lost while some people sustained injuries. The insurgents also attempted to penetrate Dalori IDP camp, but the attempt was resisted by troops which resulted into detonation of IEDs by the suicide bombers.
In the meantime, the Borno State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Haruna Mshelia, put the death toll of the Dalori attacks at 101, following the missing of 16 villagers.
He disclosed this in Maiduguri, while briefing the Deputy Governor, Usman Durkwa, and the Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, Maj-Gen. Umaru Hassan, on the casualty figures and hospitalization of 59 victims at two hospitals in Maiduguri.
His words: “A total of 65 bodies were deposited at the Specialist Hospital. Many others are being deposited at UMTH while another 10 were buried yesterday evening at the Dalori community cemetery.”
‘I saw sporadic shootings’
Fugu Ajari, one of the villagers who escaped the attacks, told our correspondent on phone, that the insurgents came and were shooting sporadically and people started running in all directions.
He disclosed that what caused the high casualty was the suicide bombers
who detonated their explosives in a crowded environment.
Recently, the Deputy Theatre Commander (Air) of Operation Lafiya Dole, battling the terrorists in the North-East, Air Vice Marshal Isiaka Oladayo Amao, revealed that, apart from the efforts to degrade Boko Haram, sustained air operations and surveillance had been intensified towards locating the abducted Chibok schoolgirls and other citizens that may have been kidnapped by the sect.
He said, “In continuation of the counter insurgency, the air component in the last one month conducted 286 operational sorties against terrorists’ targets from December 25, to date in the Sambisa Forest covering an area of 157,000km2 which is equivalent to the total land mass of South Korea, Portugal and Togo. A total of 536 hours, 21 minutes were flown by various platforms engaged in the operations, translating into 316,637.5 litres of aviation fuel which amounts to N60.3 million, excluding the cost of maintenance and armament expended”.
The missions,Amao said, led to the destruction of newly discovered Boko Haram leadership hideouts, enclaves, logistics support bases and infrastructure, especially as they (terrorists) fled Sambisa Forest to nearby locations due to aerial bombardment.
Notable among the missions, he said, was an air strike which saw some terrorist leaders and junior commanders, who had gathered for a leadership meeting in Sambisa Forest, being neutralized by a precision strike which led to the killing of several terrorists.
The most significant strike, according to Amao, was conducted on January 17, following intelligence report on the location of a High Value Terrorist leader taking refuge at a location south of Arra village in the Sambiza Forest, where air strikes neutralized the target.
He mentioned areas of the successful air strikes conducted to include Gadzama, Ngwalimiri, Dure and Dure Takwalla, Ajigin, Bitta, Gulumba Gana, Sigel, Damasak and Kumshe communities now occupied by insurgents.
Other areas, which came under strike, include Yajiwa, Asaga, Tumbun Gini and Mada towns, amongst others, as well as medical evacuation missions which were also carried out at Marte Local Government area and Banki town of Borno on January 21.
56 terrorists eliminated
Likewise, troops from the 7 Division, Nigerian Army, last Monday, recorded a huge success by killing 56 terrorists while conducting patrols along Gardawaji, Adashe, Mijigine, Manawci, Mafa, Dikwa and Kala Balge communities.
Troops also averted what could have been another massacre when two suicide bombers trying to infiltrate Maiduguri through Muna Dalti, 100 metres ahead of troops and a Civilian JTF checkpoint, were intercepted.
This was disclosed by the Media Coordinator, Operation Lafiya Dole, Anka, while briefing journalists in Maiduguri last Tuesday.
He said the suicide bombers were halted but refused to stop, and, in the process, the bombers blew themselves up with no casualty on troops or civilians.
Anka pointed out that during the encounter with troops in various locations and hideout of terrorists, several AK47 rifles, RPGs, GPMG, MPGP, 1-60 km mortar, grenades, motor bombs were recovered.
In a related development, he said troops, along Damboa- Chibok Road arrested some unknown vigilantes, one of whom claimed to be the village head of Kopchi village in company of 42 others. They claimed to be operating around Madagali general area of Adamawa State. Six among the 42, Anka said, were apprehended for carrying AK47 rifles with 15 magazines.
The suspects, according to him, were undergoing interrogation, adding that troops were committed to ending the activities of insurgents.
Lamenting on the renewed attacks by insurgents, the Chairman of Al-Hayah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (ACBAN), Alhaji Ibrahim Mafa, has said that 1, 637 herdsmen were killed in various attacks by Boko Haram in Borno State; with the torching of many Fulani tents and hamlets.
Ibrahim, who spoke in Maiduguri, expressed shock on the death toll in the six-year Boko Haram insurgency in the North-East.
He said that since the Boko Haram insurgency, the cattle breeders association had lost over a million livestock.