Posted by News Express | 24 March 2014 | 3,088 times
No fewer than 90 persons were killed, weekend, in separate incidents in Benue and Borno states.
In Benue, 55 persons were killed, yesterday, afternoon in one of the bloodiest clashes between Tiv youths and suspected Fulani mercenaries at Gbajimba, the headquarters of Guma Local Government Area of the state, while 35 persons died when Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) suspected to have been planted by Boko Haram terrorists exploded at a market square in Ngurosoye village of Bama council area of Borno State.
The deaths were recorded on a day the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Kenneth Minimah, charged officers and soldiers involved in the ongoing counter terrorist operations in the North-East to ensure that the terrorists no longer have any opportunity to perpetrate atrocities
In the Benue clash, heavy gun battle was still raging in the besieged town at press time while women and children were said to be fleeing to nearby villages and Makurdi, the state capital, for safety.
This latest fighting is coming on the heels of the recent sacking of Tse Ortom-Adorogo, home town of the Minister of State for Trade and Investment and Supervising Minister of Aviation, Dr. Samuel Ortom, after Governor Gabriel Suswam’s convoy had also been attacked on that axis by the invaders.
An eyewitness said that the suspected mercenaries stormed Gbajimba yesterday morning but were repelled by armed Tiv youths who engaged them in a bloody fight.
According to the eyewitness, “They came in their numbers very early this morning from Awe Local Government Area of Nasarawa State and made an attempt to seize the town and the local government secretariat but they were confronted by our youths who resisted them, forcing them to beat a retreat.
“Just this afternoon at about 1 o’clock, they staged a more coordinated attack on the town, this time they came in their hundreds, shooting, burning down houses, huts and killing anything in sight.
“The Police station in Gbajimba is helpless because we have less than 50 officers and men on ground at the station and this attack has completely overwhelmed them.
“As I speak, serious fighting is still going on in Gbajimba. About 55 persons may have been killed on both sides because corpses of the dead litter the invaded communities. So many of our people are also missing at this moment.
“But from the look of things, if security personnel do not quickly mobilise into the town, the invaders may succeed in taking over the ancient town after sacking close to 100 villages in the local government area in the last few weeks.
“Our fear is that if Gbajimba is allowed to fall into the hands of these marauders, it could be used as a launching pad to attack Makurdi which is just a few minutes drive from the ancient town.”
Contacted, the Police spokesperson, Superintendent Daniel Ezeala said: “We gathered that there is serious fighting in Gbajimba right now but I’m yet to get a formal briefing on the matter.”
In Borno, the bomb explosion occurred when most traders had come for business and all of a sudden, there was a deafening sound at the centre of the market, killing about 35 persons. Several others were also injured and some shops were destroyed.
Ngurosoye is a farming community off the Sambisa forest and about 10 kilometres from Bama council area which had witnessed series of attacks by suspected Boko Haram terrorists in recent times.
A local trader who gave his name as Mallam Isa Umar Bama, who survived the blast, told our correspondent that the incident took place few metres from his shop, adding that it was by the grace of God that he is alive as some people around him died in the blast.
He said: “It was by the grace of Allah (God) that I am alive, as one of my neighbours who sold onions and customers died in the explosion.
“The attack on the market is purely the handiwork of Boko Haram insurgents who fled from the Sambisa forest after the military offensive on their camps.”
Shuaibu Abdulahi, another trader at the market said: “I travelled to Bama to buy bags of beans. Suddenly, there was a deafening bang at the middle of the market. It was in the late afternoon and commercial activities were at their peak.” He estimated the death toll to be as high as 29.
Abba Tahir, a bus driver, who was offloading passengers at the market, said he counted 20 bodies.
He said: “People were helping in evacuating the corpses after the confusion had died down. Some people, who were injured, were taken to the general hospital.”
Borno State Police Commissioner, Mr. Lawal Tanko, confirmed the incident to our correspondent on phone, saying that “it was a bomb suspected to have been planted by Boko Haram terrorists at the centre of the market in Ngurosoye that exploded during market hour, killing several people and injuring others.”
He said, already, a team of the anti-bomb squad had been dispatched to the affected area to ascertain the cause of the blast.
•Excerpted from a Vanguard report.
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