…Zulum cuts Abuja trip, visits 4 Hawul communities
…Orders reconstruction works
By Ndahi Marama, with Agency report
Boko Haram militants have killed no fewer than 10 persons, including four security personnel in raids, weekend, on three villages in Borno State, local and security sources told AFP, yesterday.
This came as hundreds of fleeing residents of Shindifu, Kirbutu, Debiro, Shaffa, Tashan Alade communities and Azare, the headquarters of Hawul Local Government Area of Borno State, yesterday started returning to their homes to count their losses, following a deadly Boko Haram attack on Saturday evening.
Meanwhile, Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno State, yesterday, returned to Maiduguri from Abuja, and visited communities attacked by Boko Haram on Saturday in Hawul.
Fighters in six trucks attacked the villages of Shafa, Azare and Tashan Alade in Borno State on Saturday and razed homes and public buildings while firing sporadically at residents.
“They killed 10 persons and burnt homes, shops and churches,” said Sani Mohammed, head of an anti-jihadist militia.
The assailants went from village to village. In Azare, they “burnt a police station and killed two policemen,, a member of the civil defence and a vigilante,” another militiaman Bulus James, said. The attack forced residents to flee into the bush amid shooting from the militants.
“We recovered five dead bodies with gunshots wounds from the bush along with six women with gunshot injuries,” James said.
“They were all hit while trying to escape,” he added. In Tashan Alade, residents fled into the hills overlooking the village before the assailants arrived, resident Luka Musa said.
“When they came, they went on a burning spree, burning three churches, three houses and a drug store,” Musa said.
In a video it released on Saturday, the group claimed responsibility for a Christmas Eve attack on a village in which 11 persons died as well as the kidnap of a priest who appeared in the video.
On Thursday dozens of loggers were kidnapped and three killed near the border with Cameroon.
Boko Haram and a splinter group known as ISWAP have killed 36,000 people in the northeast and forced roughly two million to flee since 2009, according to the United Nations.
Fleeing residents return
Sources told Vanguard that unspecified number of civilians were killed and injured, including a 90 -year old man, (name withheld) who was killed, while his house was set ablaze in Shaffa town.
Another source revealed that scores of the insurgents were also killed as military airstrike engaged the insurgents, unfortunately, a number of Churches, shops, telecommunications masts and other private and public structures were razed in the affected communities.
Hawul is predominantly a Christian community and about 200km drive from Maiduguri, the state capital with no military formation in the council since the emergence of Boko Haram.
Narrating his ordeal, Mallam James Ishaya, a resident of Shaffa town said, the insurgents had operated for more than 10 hours without troops on ground to repel them, only for an airstrike and efforts by some hunters/vigilantes, who were later overwhelmed by the superior power of the insurgents that invaded in large number with gun trucks with arms and ammunitions.
He lamented that most of them ran and slept in the bushes and mountains with their kits and kins only to return home yesterday, to count their losses.
It was gathered that some policemen were among the casualties. Efforts to get confirmation from the Police Public Relations Officer, Edet Okon proved abortive at press time.
Zulum visits Hawul communities
Governor Zulum, who traveled from Maiduguri to Katsina and Abuja on Thursday, for series of scheduled activities, cut short the trip following the attack. About four communities,: Tashan Alade, Shafa, Azare, Sabon-Kasuwa and Debro were affected in Saturday’s attack with schools, shops and places of worship destroyed by the insurgents.
Governor Zulum was in Yimirshika, Azare, Sabon-Kasuwa and Shafa. The governor inspected all destroyed property and ordered immediate reconstruction of property that include police station, market stalls and others.
In Shafa, Zulum ordered the provision of six patrol vehicles and other components to strengthen local security network in the community. Also in Yamirshika, Zulum directed the provision of surveillance vehicles to hunters and vigilantes.
Zulum addressed terrified residents, who returned to Yamirshika town earlier Saturday, after attacks by insurgents on the town was repelled.
“We departed Abuja to Maiduguri this morning (yesterday), and we are here to show our sympathy and to stand with all of you, our brothers and in Hauwl, over the sad incident on Saturday. I have been fully briefed and I have seen things myself, Insha Allah, we will strengthen security here and in all places.
“We will as soon as possible, make available all your requirements based on my interaction with security stakeholders and community leaders. We will rehabilitate the Police station, the shops and all other infrastructures destroyed yesterday,” Zulum said.
Zulum noted that he felt bad going to commiserate after attacks because protection of lives and properties was government’s first priority.
“As enshrined in section 14, 2b of the 1999 constitution, security of lives and properties remain the cardinal objective of any government. We know this and we are doing everything within our powers to provide security and ensure the welfare of citizens. We will neither relent nor shy away from our responsibilities. We shall remain resilient and focused in our search for peace in Borno,” Zulum said.
The governor, who later spoke to journalists, said his visit was to strengthen community resilience and provide support to local volunteers assisting the security agencies in restoring peace.
Zulum was accompanied to Hawul communities by the Deputy Governor, Umar Kadafur, former Deputy Governor, Usman Durkwa, Senator representing Southern Borno, Mohammed dume, Commissioners Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Resettlement, Engr Mustapha Gubio and Agriculture, Engr Bukar Talba.