A four-hour rampage by Boko Haram terrorists in Auno, a sleepy community near Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, on Sunday night left no fewer than 30 people, including infants, dead.
The victims consumed by the fire set to their houses and the vehicles inside which they were sleeping by the insurgents who arrived in the village on motorcycles.
Eyewitnesses said the fire was aggravated by a military fuel tanker which rammed into parked commercial vehicles already torched by the insurgents.
An unspecified number of women, according to some of the witnesses, were said to have been abducted by the terrorists before fleeing the village along the Maiduguri/Damaturu highway.
There was, however, no independent confirmation of the abduction.
A resident said “those who died in that attack were over 30, including infants. The attack started around 9:45pm (on Sunday) and lasted till about1am (Monday).
A commercial driver, who gave his name as Adamu Tella, said he saw a number of burnt bodies being conveyed in a Civilian JTF vehicle while driving past the scene, a 24-minutes’ drive from Maiduguri.
A passenger, Haruna Yunusa, said he “counted 21 vehicles, including trailers, some of them still being burnt as at the time I passed through the village this (yesterday) morning.”
Borno State Governor Babagana Zulum, who visited the scene, said he was told by the villagers that about 30 people were burnt in the fire
He sympathized with the people and called on them to give the necessary cooperation to the military.
The governor, who collaborated allegations by the survivors of the attack that soldiers left them unprotected, said he had made several appeals to the military to establish a unit in Auno to no avail.
Governor Babagana Zulum inspecting the scene…on Monday
“Another thing is that the military has withdrawn from Auno town. I am not undermining the capacity of the military but we have made repeated appeals for the military to establish their unit in Auno.
Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, Maj. Gen. Olusegun Adeniyi, however, told reporters at a news conference that 10 people were killed in the attack. Gen. Adeniyi also said he had “no knowledge of a military tanker on that road at that time.”
He said the insurgents parked their motorcycles far away and walked down to burn travellers vehicles.
He also dispelled the allegation that his soldiers were in the habit of abandoning the residents to their fate.