Members of the Boko Haram sect who were displaced from their Sambisa forest stronghold in Borno State and forced back from Maiduguri by the Nigerian Army have re-emerged in the southern part of the state forcing motorists to shun the Biu/Maiduguri highway for fear of being attacked on the road.
It was also learnt that members of the outlawed sect invaded Pela Birni village of Hawul Local Government Area in the southern part of the state, killing two residents and setting ablaze two churches and many residential houses.
Pela Birni is one of the most populated and remotest villages under Kwajjafa District in southern Borno with a large Christian population, a few kilometres from Garkida town of Adamawa State.
According to eyewitnesses, the gunmen came to the village at about 10p.m. on Sunday with sophisticated weapons and opened fire on their targets displacing hundreds of residents who are now taking refuge around the mountainous areas of Kwajjafa District and its environs.
Mallam Musa Anjili in Pela Birni who spoke to journalists on telephone, said he narrowly escaped being killed by the attackers, lamenting that the house he was sleeping in was among the ones set ablaze.
“The gunmen invaded our village at about 10 o’clock in the evening on Sunday; they started shouting God is Great. In some houses, they did not shoot at the residents but ordered them to vacate their houses and set them ablaze, saying we are here for God work,” he said.
Another resident who spoke anonymously said most of the neighbouring houses near the Church of Brethern (EYN in Hausa) were set ablaze including the church, while two people lost their lives while many sustained injuries.
He narrated that the gunmen numbering over 50 carried AK47 rifles, petrol bombs and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and had a field day wrecking havoc on poor innocent civilians.
The Chairman of Hawul Local Government Area, Dr. Andrew Usman Malgwi, confirmed the incident to journalists.
He lamented that the rate at which suspected insurgents are holding people to ransom in the state and other states in the North-east region is worrisome, as he called for serious prayers from all Nigerians.
“Yes there was an attack in one of my villages (Pela Birni) yesterday (Sunday) which led to wanton killings and destruction of properties. We have communicated to relevant security agencies on the matter which have swung into action with a view to apprehending the perpetrators; we have also mobilised our people to ascertain the damage and assist the displaced persons as an interim measure,” Malgwi said.
The chairman, who expressed shock, said he was displeased over the “incident where innocent citizens and poor villagers who live from hand to mouth were attacked, killed and have their houses including places of worship burnt down by insurgents for not just cause.”
It can be reported that due to the fear of being attacked on the Biu/Maiduguri road, the Christian pilgrims from state to Jerusalem, Israel, who left Maiduguri yesterday morning for Yola to board a flight had to avoid the Biu/Maiduguri road which should have taken just about five hours for a longer route through Damaturu which took over seven hours.
The pilgrims were advised by the security agents to avoid the dangerous Biu/Maiduguri road.