The villagers in a Yobe State village of Kukuwa-Gari have refuted the denials by Nigeria’s military that Boko Haram did not attack the village.
The Yobe villagers insisted that the attack, which occurred led to the death of 150 to 160 residents.
The army had stated that the report of the attack was ‘unsubstantiated’.
However the affected residents described how more than 150 of their relatives and neighbours drowned in a river fleeing militants who opened fire on them last week Thursday.
Aanother eight were shot dead.
A local official put the death toll at a much lower 50, while Colonel Rabe Abubakar, the acting director of the military’s information department, said reports of the incident were “not true, utterly scurrilous and very misleading” in a statement entitled “Boko Haram did not kill 150 in Yobe”.
He said the military was tipped off ahead of the
attack, so that troops and civilian forces were
able to ambush the Boko Haram militants
“The insurgents ran into them and a gunbattle
ensued in which four Boko Haram members and
one civilian (fighter) lost their lives,” he said.
The villagers’ count of the dead in Kukuwa-Gari
would constitute the largest loss of life in any
single Boko Haram attack since President
Muhammadu Buhari swept to power on May 29,
vowing to crush the insurgency.
Telecommunications in Kukuwa-Gari are almost
non-existent, but villagers who fled to nearby
settlements said those who returned had buried
160 bodies, while many feared going back.
Alhaji Kankana Sarkin-Baka, leader of a local
group of hunters co-opted to fight the insurgency
alongside vigilante groups, said 17 gunmen had
come on motorcycles, including a local Boko
“They had superior firepower because they were
using modern guns while we were using hunting
guns. We were outpowered but they were
outnumbered,” he told AFP.
He said six of the fighters positioned themselves
by the river, blocking the only escape route, and
opened fire on fleeing residents, forcing them to
jump into the water.
“So far we have buried 160 people. And out of
this number only eight bodies had gunshot
wounds, which means all the others drowned,”
he told AFP.
He said the villagers had received reports from
Galda town, around 100 kilometres (60 miles)
away, of seven bloated bodies seen floating
down the river which were believed likely to be
further victims of the massacre.
Sarkin-Baka said the hunters killed 14 of the
attackers, including the commander and his
deputy, while three escaped with gunshot
“We recovered guns and explosives and drugs
from them,” he added.
The villagers, who have secured reinforcements
of 100 hunters from the state capital Damaturu,
say the gunmen were “born and bred” in the area
and joined Boko Haram several years ago.
“Up to this moment no troops have deployed. Our
major operational challenge is good weapons to
effectively counter any possible further attack by
Boko Haram. All we have are hunting guns,”
Sarkin-Baka told AFP.
Kukuwa-Gari resident Modu Balumi, who had fled
to neighbouring Gombe State, told AFP his sister-
in-law and two of her children were among
several villagers still missing.
– Aerial bombardment –
“Honestly, I am not happy with the way the
military tried to deny that our village was
attacked. Many of us who are yet to return have
changed our minds about going back by this
stance of the military,” he told AFP.
The Gujba area of Yobe state, where Kukuwa-
Gari is located, has been hit hard by Boko Haram
violence in the past but had seen relative calm
since troops reclaimed it in March.
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