By Ndahi Marama, with Agency Report
FEW hours after the Federal Government proposed an amnesty for Boko Haram insurgents, about 29 persons lost their lives in two incidents in Maiduguri, Borno State, involving the terrorists and the Nigerian Military, with no fewer than 83 others injured.
In the first incident, at least 15 persons including a soldier, were killed on Sunday night during hours of battle to ward off a large number of armed suicide bombers trying to invade Maiduguri the Borno State capital from Bille villages, a stone throw to Maiduguri, the state capital.
The second incident occurred when soldiers on guard at the outskirts of Maiduguri gunned down six Boko Haram gunmen and seven suicide bombers, bringing the death toll on both sides to 29.
Residents of Maiduguri were forced to keep vigil Sunday night following hours of thunderous explosions and shootings till the early hours of yesterday.
The military said Boko Haram suicide bombers and gunmen attempted to invade Maiduguri through the outskirts of Bille-Shuwa and Alikaranti villages.
The spokesman of the military at Operation Lafiya Dole headquarters, Maiduguri, Colonel Onyema Nwachukwu, said the attackers would have made it into more crowded areas of Maiduguri had the troops deployed along the attacked axis not repelled them.
Survivors of the attack said most of those killed in the suicide attack were youths, who were at a viewing centre.
While the youths fled on hearing gunshots between soldiers and the terrorists, the suicide bombers infiltrated them.
“The gunmen came with the suicide bombers, and as they were engaged by soldiers, some of them sneaked into the confused fleeing crowd and detonated themselves killing about 15 people, leaving over 80 others injured,” said Momodu Bukar, an operative of Civilian-JTF.
For Nwachukwu, “troops of Operation Lafiya Dole deployed in the Cashew Plantation around Bille Shuwa and aAlikaranti villages have quashed an attempt by Boko Haram terrorists to penetrate Maiduguri metropolis yesterday at about 8.10p.m.
“The insurgents met with stiff resistance of troops who killed six of the insurgents and neutralised seven suicide bombers in the encounter. The troops also recovered two AK-47 rifles and two magazines.
“The Nigerian Police Explosive Ordnance Disposal team has detonated two IED vests recovered from the killed suicide bombers.
“Beaten by the troops and unable to force their way into the metropolis, the insurgents retreated and callously resorted to attacking locals who, reacting to the encounter, were fleeing in confusion from Bille Shuwa and Alkaranti villages with Person Borne Improvised Explosive Device.
“Sadly, 15 persons, including a soldier, have so far been confirmed dead in the encounter, while about 83 persons who suffered varying degrees of injuries are receiving due medical attention. Troops are still on the trail of the insurgents.”
Meanwhile, a 14-year-old Boko Haram insurgent (name withheld) has surrendered to troops of Operation Lafiya Dole.
It was gathered that the teenage Boko Haram insurgent escaped from enclave in Kekeno in the northern fringes of the Lake Chad islands.
He is currently being profiled.
According to Nwachukwu, “it is clear that the remnants of the terrorists are hell bent on remaining relevant by attacking soft and vulnerable targets. This calls for collective vigilance by all security stakeholders and the public.
“Members of the public are, therefore, urged to be watchful and discern strange persons and suspicious activities in their communities and report to the security agencies.”