Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Death Toll Rises in Adamawa, Borno Attacks

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•Victim: They burnt our mosque, killed our Imam Michael Olugbode and Sani Daji Two days after the brutal attack on them, residents of Kawuri village in Borno State have started counting their losses, lamenting that both their mosques and their Imam were destroyed in the offensive believed to have been launched by suspected Boko Haram terrorists. The community, which was attacked last Sunday, according to the residents, had seven of their mosques set ablaze, even as they (terrorists) killed their Imam. The people of the village who were still very mournful when they were visited by the Borno State Governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, were preparing for the burial of two newly discovered corpses. They told the governor that they had buried 83 persons on Monday, while 50 persons were injured in the siege. They also complained to the governor that 16 persons were still missing following the attack that lasted for nine hours without any security operative coming to their rescue. They explained that many of the victims were burnt to ashes, lamenting that six persons were burnt beyond recognition. They said they were left helpless and confused as the assailants came very prepared to destroy their village. The Konduga council secretary, Alhaji Ali Kaka Yale who gave graphic details of what happened to the governor, said the insurgents came in 26 vehicles, two armoured tanks and six army camouflaged Hilux vans. Also, a councillor of Kawuri village, Dala Lawan, told journalists that about 50 persons with serious bullet and fire injuries were on admission at three different hospitals in the state. “We have been searching and burying corpses since yesterday; the first burial was 83 but more corpses are still being picked in the bushes and some with serious injuries also died. We have just found two more corpses which brings the death toll to 85 for now,” Lawan said. The head of the Civilian JTF in the village, Lawan Mustapha, who said the market is the second largest in the area with traders from Bama, Konduga and surrounding settlements, added that their assailants were speaking Kanuri and Hausa and seemed to know the village very well. Mustapha said the Imam at the central mosque was killed by his teen student (Almajiri), who unknown to him was a member of the sect. THISDAY gathered that women, children and men with charred skins were still writhing in pain on hospital beds in Konduga town, about 10km away from Kawuri village, when the governor visited the hospital. A mother, Rabi Mallam, 46, who sustained second-degree burns, said she and her son and granddaughter were hiding inside the room when the gunmen set their home on fire. “We ran inside the house for fear of gun shots, but they came and set our house on fire, while shooting. The two kids and I could not come out because they were shooting outside; we were there for hours before they left, thinking we had been burnt to death. “I covered the kids with a heavy blanket soaked in water, but the fire still burnt us. I cried for the children because they were calling me to take them out, but I couldn't,” Rabi who had burns all over her body said. Similarly, a newly married couple who said they lost everything were amongst the villagers leaving Kawuri at the time THISDAY visited the village alongside the state governor. The governor, who was visibly shocked, directed the immediate rebuilding of the burnt mosques and market and also promised to assist the victims rebuild their houses. The governor gave the family of those who lost their beloved ones N250,000 each. In the same vein, more corpses were found in the aftermath of the attack on the Catholic Church in Chakawa village of Madagali Local Government of Adamawa State. The death toll is said to have risen from 18, according to the council chairman and residents of the area. The Chairman of Madagali Local Government, Mr. Maina Ularamu, confirmed that 45 corpses were counted by his men including two policemen totalling 47, while several others were injured and hospitalised. The attackers, who were said to be in possession of sophisticated weapons, invaded another border village and killed more people before they fled to neighbouring Cameroun Republic. A resident of the area who preferred anonymity said he counted about 53 bodies before they were evacuated to the morgue. Speaking on the incident, the Brigade Commander of the 23rd Armoured Brigade, Yola, Brigadier General Rogers Nicholas, said he was yet to ascertain the death toll, even as he added that the impact of the attack was minimal and the military was on top of the situation. But residents of the area said they were living in mortal fear, stating they were afraid that more attacks could be launched on them because the attackers were not killed by the soldiers. The spokesman for the Catholic Diocese of Yola, Reverend Father Raymond Danbouye, also confirmed that dozens were killed and were buried at a funeral on Monday.

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