Residents and motorists at Benishiek community in Borno were on Tuesday evening attacked by suspected members of Islamist extremist group Boko Haram dressed in military uniforms. The insurgents manned checkpoints, killed an unspecified number of people and set ablaze dozens of houses and vehicles.
Confirming the attack, an adviser to the state governor, Garba Ngamdu, said at least five local residents were killed in addition to an unknown number of motorists travelling through the area, while about 50 buildings housing shops and homes were burnt.
“A large chunk of the victims were motorists travelling on the highway, although we do not have a tentative figure yet,” Ngamdu added. An army spokesman confirmed the attack and said a number of residents and tanker drivers had been killed, but declined to provide further details.
Residents recalled seeing bodies littering the street and said the invaders were targeting only those from Borno State. The reason for targeting Borno indigenes seems unclear, but Boko Haram members have repeatedly carried out revenge attacks against residents over the emergence of vigilante groups popularly known as civilian JTF that was formed to assist the military.
“The militants arrived in military vans and uniforms around 6:00 pm,” Isa Manu, a motorist who escaped unhurt, told journalists in the Borno state capital Maiduguri.
“They set up checkpoints on the Damaturu-Maiduguri highway and ordered motorists to park and identify themselves.”
The attack is lesser than two weeks that fighting ensued in Benishiek between suspected Boko Haram gunmen and vigilantes which led five Islamists and 13 vigilantes dead.
Emergency rule launched in May aiming to end Boko Haram’s four-year insurgency appears to have pushed the insurgents outside of major cities and into more remote areas where attacks have been occurring.
Separately on Wednesday, the military claimed a strike on a Boko Haram camp in the northeast last week left about 150 Islamists and 16 soldiers dead, amid reports of dozens of troops killed.