At least 30 people were killed and dozens of women and children abducted by suspected Boko Haram terrorists in a night attack on Auno village on the Maiduguri-Damaturu Highway in war-ravaged, restive Borno state. The jihadists stormed in on trucks mounted with heavy weapons, killing, burning and looting. They aimed at travelers who had stopped for the night and torched vehicles, Borno state government spokesman, Ahmad Abdurrahman Bundi said on Monday.
The attack Sunday evening “killed not less than 30 people who are mostly motorists and destroyed 18 vehicles,” Bundi said in a statement after visiting the scene. The attack, some 25 kilometres (15 miles) west of Maiduguri, occurred in an area where fighters from the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) have been active, mounting roadblocks to target security forces and civilians.
Witnesses said jihadists set alight 30 vehicles in the raid, including trucks that had stopped overnight on their way to Maiduguri. The jihadists combed through the village, looting and burning shops and property before withdrawing, he said. Auno lies on the 120-kilometre highway linking Maiduguri to Damaturu, a major regional city in neighboring Yobe state.
The villagers while narrating their ordeal in the hands of the terrorists to Borno Governor, Babagana Umara Zulum, said many other residents were abducted in the siege. They also lamented that 18 vehicles comprising of trailers, buses and cars were burnt by insurgents who laid siege to their village at about 9:50 pm on Sunday.
The villagers, who were still in tears when the governor paid a condolence call on them on Monday morning, said women and children were loaded into three buses and driven away. The villagers lamented that most of those that were attacked were those that could not get into Maiduguri on Sunday as the gate to the town was shut against them having failed to arrive before the 5:00pm deadline.
One villager told Huhuonline.com on condition of anonymity, blamed the military for the massacre. “It is so sad as the Boko Haram seems to have targeted the people knowing that many would have to sleep in Auno as the gate to Maiduguri would have been shut against them by 5pm,” he said. He further lamented that when the travelers arrived after 5pm the gate mounted by the military was closed and all vehicular movements had officially ceased, the insurgents came at night and killed everyone in sight.
The governor, who was visibly shaken when he saw the charred bodies of the victims of the attack, who were burnt by the fire from burnt vehicles, requested the military authorities to dismantle the Auno gate from its present position and move it further away from the village so that it will be more difficult for insurgents to gain access into the village.
He said that the Borno state government will assist those whose vehicles were destroyed in the attack as well as those whose goods were burnt alongside the vehicles transporting foodstuff and other wares into Maiduguri. He however called on the people to remain calm and law abiding in the face of the challenges, promising that government will look for a way out of the situation.
Last month four Nigerian soldiers were killed and seven injured when jihadists attacked troops positioned in Auno. The decade-long Islamist insurgency has killed 36,000 people and displaced around two million from their homes in northeast Nigeria. The violence has spread to neighboring Niger, Chad and Cameroon, prompting a regional military coalition to fight the insurgents.