Over 50 people including military operatives, locals and travelers were on Tuesday evening killed by suspected Boko Haram insurgents who dressed in military fatigues.
The insurgents launched an attack on Benisheik town in Borno State at about 6pm and many people who travelled to Damaturu to make phone calls were kidnapped by the group.
Some soldiers who were thought to have been killed by the insurgents in crossfire reappeared yesterday. They fled to take cover when they ran out of ammunition.
Witnesses said the over 200 insurgents were dressed in the latest uniforms being used by the military deployed to Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states shortly after the declaration of state of emergency by President Goodluck Jonathan in May.
“The attackers surrounded the whole of Benisheikh. They came from all directions, some of them with rocket launchers, some with Ak47 rifles and others with improvised bombs,” a resident of the town who identified himself as Bunu said.
Our correspondents who visited the town yesterday report that the insurgents bombed the local government secretariat, the military formation as well as the offices of the Federal Road Safety Corps in the town.
Residents said over 100 houses, shops and other business premises including tractors were set ablaze by the insurgents that laid siege on the town.
On the highway to Maiduguri, which links Borno State with other parts of Nigeria including Kano, Bauchi and the federal capital territory, at least 9 articulated vehicles conveying cows, sheep and assorted foodstuff to other parts of the country were intercepted and set ablaze by the rampaging insurgents.
Three commuter buses, 8 assorted salon cars, two commercial Volkswagen cars and many motorcycles were also affected.
Survivors said most of the occupants of the vehicles had been killed by the insurgents who later disappeared without a trace.
The road leading to Maiduguri was later blocked by security operatives for about 19 hours but was reopened at about 1pm yesterday.
Borno State police chief, Tanko Lawan, confirmed the attack in Benisheikh but did not give details.
The 7 Division of the Nigerian Army in Maiduguri was silent on the matter yesterday.
However, a soldier who escaped by the whiskers and was seen at a bank in Damaturu said some of his colleagues had been killed. He said the insurgents took them unawares taking away their personal effect.
He was in Damaturu to block his ATM card which was taken away, he said.
Garba Ngamdu, a senior government adviser on Labour and a native of Benisheikh said he could only confirm the killing of five people in the town.
A commercial bus driver Bishara Modu who was seen at the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital (UMTH) said he was nearly killed by the insurgents while conveying passengers to Maiduguri.
He said, “I saw them (attackers) from a distance in military uniform. When they ordered me to stop, I did but one of them hit me with the butt of his rifle and I slumped. I think they thought I was dead.”
By 8:30pm when Modu regained consciousness, he saw “all my passengers dead and car in ashes.”
Kande Baba and her husband Haliru Ismail who were interviewed in Benisheik said they counted the dead bodies of over 15 people.
Our correspondents saw many residents of Benisheikh with their luggage on the highway. Most of them said they have to relocate because their lives are under serious threat.
On September 7, suspected fighters of the Boko Haram sect killed 14 members of the youth vigilante group, also known as Civilian JTF in Benisheik.
The Maiduguri-Damaturu road is now a ghost of its former self, just like Maiduguri-Bama and Maiduguri-Damboa-Biu-Gombe roads.