Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Troops shun Borno border towns, residents flee to caves

These are hard times for residents of border towns on Borno State following the refusal of the military authorities to heed their calls for the deployment of soldiers to protect the embattled villagers. As a result, the residents, who are said to be in the throes of a serious food scarcity, have started fleeing their homes to hills and caves while reportedly feeding on wild fruits. Speaking to journalists on Tuesday in Maiduguri, the immediate past vice chairman of Gwoza Local Government, Mr. Francis Nduka, and Caretaker Committee Chairman, Dr. Hamman Ahmadu, said the people of Gwoza East, affected by Boko Haram insurgency in six border villagers, had fled into Gwoza hills and took refuge in mountain caves for safety. They said the people said they would only return if troops were deployed in the area, saying staying in the affected villages would be suicidal. Nduka said, “Our people have been gripped with ‘fears and trauma for over two weeks, and have no any other place to flee than to run into caves of Gathahure, Gjigga, Kunde, Hwa’a, Hrazah and Hembe hill settlements. As fleeing hill dwellers cannot come down to the plains for food and water, they have resorted to eating wild fruits and roots to survive since the villages had been attacked and the insurgents believed to be lurking around.” He said other villagers had fled to Maiduguri for safety and depending on the relief materials coming from the Gwoza Resettlement Committee, led by Dr. Asabe Bashir, who is also the Borno State Commissioner for Commerce, Tourism and Investments. Ahmadu on his part said, “More than 50 per cent of Gwoza council has been taken over by the insurgents, they have torched houses in six affected border villages and towns, including Ashgashiya, the district headquarters, 10 kilometres from Cameroonian territory recently. “But my fears and concern about the destroyed villages in this council is that these boys are forcefully recruiting youths into the sect, since they succeeded in taking over Gwoza East last month.” He appealed to the military authorities to deploy more personnel in the affected areas in order to wrestle them from the insurgents, noting that only Pulka and Kirawa towns have troops to protect people’s lives and property.

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