A face-off between members of the banned Boko Haram sect and the youth vigilante group, popularly called Civilian JTF, Thursday in Gwoza, Borno State, left many members of the insurgent group dead and 26 gravely wounded.
The injured members of the sect were arrested and handed over to the military authorities in Maiduguri.
Gwoza, a hilly town, has various outlets into Cameroon and is 135 kilometers from the state capital.
The youth volunteers left Maiduguri on Tuesday in search of the insurgents who were hold up in hideouts in Gwoza town where they had carried out several attacks, the latest in which they killed over thirty civilian casualties and burnt down three churches.
Speaking with newsmen, spokesman of the youth group, Adamu Isa, said they were motivated to go on the hunt which took the Boko Haram insurgents in Gwoza by surprise when they learnt of the series of attacks in the area.
“We killed several of them and arrested 26 who are wounded. We brought them and handed them over to the appropriate authorities. As at now some of them that are wounded are at the General Hospital for treatment hoping that after they recover they would be charged to court,” he said.
Members of the sect had attacked Kirawa town in Gwoza area and killed nine persons, including a senior police officer in charge of three divisional police stations.
The suspected Boko Haram members, who came to the area in Hilux Toyota Pick-up and Golf Volkswagen vehicles and motorcycles and foisted a reign of terror on residents for three hours in the afternoon, according to Ibrahim Wisso, a witness and a trader, used Improvised Explosive Devices, IEDs, and petrol-bombs to dislodge Kirawa market.
“We were caught unawares by attacks on traders, motorists and passengers in the afternoon, when gunmen in various vehicles and motorcycles started shooting at us sporadically. Those who attempted to flee for safety with their vehicles and bicycles, were however held up and tied to the attackers’ vehicles, and dragged along the road, before setting them ablaze,” a trader recounted.
According to the account, those shot dead were left at the market place, while those who were dragged and later died laid on the roadside for about six hours, before policemen could get to the scene.”
“By 6pm that fateful day, a team of policemen rushed to the scene in repelling the insurgents that invaded the town through Waza Forests in Cameroon. We were told that during the 30-minute clash with the insurgents, a senior police officer was killed along with two or three insurgents. But the casualties in the market place and roads reached eight people, with five injured traders that attempted to flee the market arena,” another witness told journalists.
Earlier in March, scores of inmates were freed after the terrorists used explosives to break open the a prison facility in Gwoza town, freeing all the prisoners and afterwards completely burnt down the place.
The insurgents were also said to have taken over most outskirts of Gwoza including Pulka and Kirawa Towns, forcing residents to flee into neighboring Cameroon villages of Mura and Marwa, some 75km away from Nigeria border.
Although Captain Aliyu Ibrahim Danja who is relieving the spokesman of the 7 Division of Nigerian Army, Sagir Musa, a lieutenant colonel, could not be reached for comment on the matter, it was learnt that some of the arrested Boko Haram were kept at sector 4 around post office area in Maiduguri as people were trooping to catch a glimpse of them.