Posted by News Express | 20 September 2013 | 3,930 times
The death toll in Tuesday’s Boko Haram attack on Maiduguri-Damaturu road near Benisheik town in troubled Borno State has hit 161, according to reports.
Officers of the Borno State Environmental Protection Agency (BOSEPA) yesterday recovered 87 more corpses of travelers killed by the terrorists. This was in addition to 55 bodies recovered the previous day, BOSEPA officials told journalists during a visit by Governor Kashim Shettima to the scene of the violence.
Heavily armed insurgents had laid siege on Benisheik, Kaga Local Government Area on Tuesday evening, killing people and setting buildings ablaze.
They also blocked the Maiduguri-Damaturu highway, three kilometers away from the town, sorting out and slaughtering dozens of travelers.
Apart from the 142 travellers, two soldiers, three policemen and 14 villagers were also killed in the attack, bringing the total death toll to 161.
Yesterday, Shettima visited Benisheik where he condoled with the people and offered compensation to victims of the violence.
Saidu Yakubu, a senior BOSEPA official, who briefed Shettima at the highway killing spot, later told journalists “87 bodies were recovered in the bush and our people are still searching for more.”
Environmental assistant Abdulaziz Kolomi said: “Apart from the dead bodies recovered today (Thursday), we collected 55 on Wednesday and the fact is that we did not go deep into the bush where I strongly believe that many people have fallen there.”
A visibly shaken Gov. Shettima urged the residents to persevere and stop fleeing.
“What happened is barbaric and un-Islamic,” he said. “No one in his right senses will destroy the houses of the poor and their source of livelihood. God is with you, the people of Benisheik, and will liberate you from the hands of the wicked.”
Alhaji Shettima announced the release of N50 million for the rebuilding of over 100 houses and shops burnt in the town. He also approved N3.5 million to be shared among the families of the 14 people killed in the town.
The governor said in addition to the cash donation, assorted food items would be distributed to them to cushion the effect of the attacks. He also announced the setting up of a 5-member committee to carry out an in-depth assessment and recommend measures to enhance surveillance.
Gov. Shettima said government appreciated the efforts of vigilantes known as ‘Civilian JTF’ and announced the release of two Hilux patrol vehicles for them.
Brigadier General Mohammed Yusuf of the 21 Armoured Brigade, who briefed the governor in the town, said soldiers stationed in Benisheik ran out of ammunition and this forced them to leave their places of duty during the incident.
“Our men did not desert Benisheik, they would be back latest by Friday (today) after full reinforcement,” he said.
A soldier who spoke to correspondents in confidence said the insurgents had superior power. According to him, “The terrorists were using anti-aircraft guns while we were using AK47 rifles and some RPGs. They came in droves, driving about 20 pick-up trucks accompanied with two light-armored tankers, all wearing military colors. We had to retreat to our base to reinforce after running out of ammunition.
“However, they followed us down and surrounded our base and began to shell our building. We couldn’t stand the heat of their superior fire power. We had to retreat into the village after they killed two of our soldiers and three policemen.”
The soldier said after the siege, the insurgents took away an armoured tank and four pick-up vehicles painted in military colours from the base.
•Photo courtesy Daily Trust shows part of the destruction in Benisheik.
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