- “Many of the drivers and their assistants who were sleeping in the vehicles were burnt alive.”
- The attack is said to have targeted the village of Auno on a key highway linking to Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State.
- Maiduguri was once the headquarters of Boko Haram, but the government forces eventually drove the group out of the city.
At least 30 people were burnt alive, while women and children were abducted, in northeastern Nigeria. The government spokesman, Ahmad Abdurrahman Bundi, said that the attackers stormed the area in trucks mounted with heavy weapons, killing, burning and looting before kidnapping women and children. “They killed not less than thirty people who were mostly motorists and destroyed 18 vehicles,” the spokesman said in a statement after visiting the scene.
“Many of the drivers and their assistants who were sleeping in the vehicles were burnt alive,” said Babakura Kolo, a member a state-backed militia battling fighters in the area. Kolo said that the travelers had stopped for the night adding that the attackers combed through the village, looting and burning shops and property. It is alleged that the attackers took away three buses carrying women and children to Maiduguri, which had parked in the village for the night. “We still don’t know how many women and children they took away but the number is huge,” Kolo said.
Residents said that most of the victims who were traveling to the state capital, Maiduguri, were forced to sleep in Auno because the military had shut the road leading to the city. The attack is said to have targeted the village of Auno on a key highway linking to Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State. Auno lies on the 120 kilometres highway that links Maiduguri to Damataru, a major regional city in the neighboring Yobe State. Maiduguri was once the headquarters of Boko Haram, but the government forces eventually drove the group out of the city. The highway has increasingly been targeted by the Islamic State West African Province (ISWAP) group in recent past.
ISWAP, split from the Boko Haram militant group in 2016. Boko Haram has waged a decade-long armed campaign in northeastern Nigeria, and has claimed the lives of tens of thousands and displaced millions from their homes. The violence has spread to neighboring Niger, Chad and Cameroon which has led to the creation of a regional military coalition to fight the attackers.
There has been a surge of violent attacks in the region in the recent weeks. The increase comes after the Nigerian army last year launched a new strategy that saw it withdraw troops from remote bases into larger “super camps.” The military says the tactic has helped curb the attacks but the local residents and aid workers have disputed this attack. Last month four Nigerian soldiers were killed and seven wounded in an attack in Auno.
Many of the people of Nigeria have been calling for an overhaul of the security forces and the replacement of the military chiefs. The citizens hope that the new generals in charge of security strengthen the fight against the militants so as to ensure that the decade-long insurgency does not worsen.