There was panic in Damaturu, the Yobe State capital, on Sunday with residents fleeing following Boko Haram attack with heavy artillery shelling, particularly from the northern part of the town around Gashua road.
Residents ran into the houses for safety while shops and businesses closed hurriedly and many travellers were reported to have been stranded on the roads leading to the state capital as soldiers temporarily blocked the roads.
However, after gun battles, soldiers later repel what appears to be a Boko Haram attack.
While speaking on the attack, the spokesman of Sector II of Operation Lafiya Dole, Damaturu, Njoka Irabor, an army captainsaid that “the insurgents made an attempt to enter Damaturu from the northern flank of the town but were given a heavy blow by both air and ground troops.”
Mr Irabor, said Sunday night that Damaturu was now calm and “details of the attack will be relayed by tomorrow”.
While the attack on Damaturu ensued, dozens of vehicles trying to get to the town were stranded as the army blocked the roads leading into the town.
Witnesses said more than 300 vehicles were stranded including the Borno State governor’s convoy along Damaturu-Maiduguri highway.
Governor Babagana Zulum was, however, not in the convoy, which was said to be travelling to Gombe where it would be joined by the Borno governor for a tour of Southern Borno.
Saturday’s daring attack was the second by Boko Haram on Damaturu within two months. Both attacks were from the Gashua part of the town which has now become a flash point for the insurgents.
The first attack occurred early last November a few days after the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, visited Yobe.
It was alleged that the insurgents wanted to steal the 30 Hilux vehicles that Yobe governor Mala Buni donated to security operatives in the state.
Killing of Humanitarian Workers
Earlier on Sunday three people were feared killed and two others were also reportedly kidnapped when suspected members of the Boko Haram attacked humanitarian workers in the neighboring Borno State.
Reports say that the insurgents carried out the attack along the Maiduguri-Monguno road.
Sources within the UN system in Maiduguri, Borno State, confirmed the attack though details are still sketchy as officials within the UN offices said it is too early to give correct figures of casualties.
A usually reliable UN source said the two of the abductees were female.
“I can confirm to you that the sad incident happened today along Monguno road but one cannot be certain about the actual figure yet,” said the source who craved anonymity.
Other sources said that the attacked humanitarian workers are employees of an international NGO called Alima.
Alima is the first INGO to set foot on the reclaimed town of Monguno in June 2016 when it commenced humanitarian aid operations in Borno State. It is still providing services in Monguno to date.
ALIMA is providing medical and nutritional care at seven IDP clinics in Monguno, as well as at the Maternal Child Health Centre where ALIMA offers hospitalisation for children for health and nutrition and a Basic Emergency Maternal and Newborn Care (BEmONC) and at the General Hospital Monguno were Comprehensive Emergency Maternal and Newborn Care (CEmONC) and an Emergency Room for adults are available.
For now efforts to contact officials of Alima for further confirmation had been futile.
The persistence of the protracted armed conflict between the armed groups known as Jama’atu Ahlus-Sunnah Lidda’Awati Wal Jihad (JAS) and the Islamic State West Africa’s Province (ISWAP) and State forces, including the Multinational Joint Task Force, has largely contributed to the degradation of the humanitarian situation in Northeastern Nigeria.