Timothy Olanrewaju, Maiduguri
Boko Haram has run a vehicle laden with explosives into a convoy of vehicles to create confusion and thereafter attacked a community in Maiduguri, Borno State capital.
Security sources and residents said a convoy of vehicles led by military escorts were cleared at a military checkpoint in Molai, a suburb of Maiduguri at about 6:30 pm on Tuesday unknown to the military troops that some Boko Haram vehicles have infiltrated the convoy.
Sources said one of the insurgents’ vehicles was laden with explosives which hit a military vehicle at the end of the convoy. The explosives in the Boko Haram vehicle went off with a loud sound, causing confusion and fire, a military source told correspondent. The source said some Boko Haram drove in immediately to the scene and started firing sporadically.
“We saw some Boko Haram insurgents firing and we started running into different directions. Nobody understood what was happening because they kept firing. We fled our homes,” Mohammed Saleh, a resident of Molai said.
The insurgents reportedly moved into the community and set fire to houses, shops and a local market there. A middle-aged woman who came to the area on visitation was burnt alive in a house, some residents said. The residents also said they were about to break their Ramadan fast when the insurgents struck.
Military troops were later deployed to the scene even as a military fighter jet hovered around the area for nearly 30 minutes to push back the insurgents. Scores of residents fled their homes
Residents further said seven bodies were evacuated from the scene after the attack but security sources said the casualty figure could be higher. Some residents claimed they saw dead bodies of four soldiers being evacuated late Tuesday night although the military did not confirm the claim.
Dozens of houses and shops were burnt even as relations of the victims said they were planning to bury the deceased. Most of the residents returned homes early on Wednesday to see the rubble of their houses and shops.
The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has declined to comment on the incident, saying it was a security issue. Neither the military nor the police authorities in the state have issued any reaction on the attack.
Molai has experienced more than five attacks in nearly a decade of insurgency in Borno. Last week, two explosives were thrown into a public hospital at in the area by suspected Boko Haram members although there was no casualty.