After sustained attacks for over three days, members of the Boko Haram yesterday finally hoisted their flags in Damboa, headquarters of Damboa Local Government Area of Borno State.
About 46 dead bodies have been recovered in ruined houses and streets in Damboa, survivors and witnesses said.
An official of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) who does not want his name mentioned said reports reaching him from Damboa indicate that almost all the people in the town have have fled.
“I was told that 46 bodies have been recovered so far and evidently, there is humanitarian crisis in Damboa,” he said.
Some residents who took refuge in Maiduguri said some bodies of fleeing residents may be found in the bushes because many people fled with gunshot wounds.
Usman Babagana, a father of seven children said he did not know the whereabouts of his second wife and three of his children.
“I have one wife in Maiduguri and the second one in Damboa. The crisis erupted when I was in Maiduguri and I did all I could to get in touch with those in Damboa without success… I am really worried,” he said.
The latest crisis in Damboa started on Thursday, July 17, when dozens of Boko Haram fighters, armed with Anti-Aircraft missiles and explosives reportedly stormed the town around 6.30pm, witnesses and survivors said.
They allegedly continued to kill and destroy houses and locations in the town until around 7.00am on Friday.
After the insurgents left, some of the residents who do not have where to go returned to the deserted town from their hideouts only to be visited by the attackers again around 4.00pm.
A senior official from Damboa, who craved for anonymity, said the attackers destroyed more houses and shops after carting away assorted food items.
According to him, “Sadly, after they left late at night on Friday, they mobilized again in the morning today (Saturday) and hoist their flags at the centre of the town. They were chanting Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar (meaning God is Great, God is Great).
“As I am talking to you, the few people that one can find in Damboa are old people whose killing would not be of any gain to anyone. All agile men, women and children have fled… in fact, Damboa is a ghost town,” he said.
Since the major offensive in Damboa on Friday, July 4, which led to the killing of over 70 people, including the attackers, soldiers, policemen and civilians, the town had remained under siege.
During the attack, the 195 Battalion, the Divisional Police Headquarters, the local government secretariat, market, Motor Park and other landmarks were all destroyed by the attackers.
And in the latest onslaught, the house of the caretaker chairman and that of the Chief Imam of the town, including residential houses of residents were destroyed.
Alhaji Kaumi Damboa, an elder from the area, on Saturday, told the Shehu of Borno, Alhaji Abubakar Garbai, Al Amin El-Kanemi, that the absence of security operatives in Damboa was responsible for the recent wave of attacks.
He called on the federal government to save his people from what he described as “imminent extinction.”
Our correspondent reports that after protracted delay and resistance by troops to go back to Damboa based on the allegations that they were not given superior fighting equipment, soldiers headed for the embattled town on the July 9, but were ambushed near Kwamala village after Dalwa.
A second attempt to go back to the military base failed once again, credible sources said, a development that gave the insurgents the zeal to hoist their flag lately.
Damboa is 85 kilometers to Maiduguri along Maiduguri-Biu road and had been attacked severally in the past.
In a related development, six people have been killed when gunmen suspected to be Boko Haram members yesterday (Saturday) attacked Saha and Bulabuli-Pegi Barawa villages in Gwoza Local Council of Borno State.
The villages are along the borders between Nigeria and Cameroon where dozens of communities have been sacked and locals displaced.
A resident of Saha, Pirda Tada said the attackers besieged the towns in a convoy of Toyota Hilux vehicles and motorcycles.
“They came in the morning with guns and IEDs. It is God that spared my life because three of my neighbours were shot dead, while the other three people were slaughtered.
“The assailants also threw explosives into some buildings,” Tada said.
Sunday Trust gathered from credible security source that after attacking Saha, the insurgents proceeded to Bulabuli-Pegi Barawa.
“I cannot tell you the exact number of people killed in the villages, but the report we received this afternoon indicates that six people were killed at Saha village, while several houses and shops, including a local Church were torched in Pege Barawa,” the source said.
A former Vice-Chairman of Gwoza council, Francis Mbala confirmed the incidences to newsmen, saying the insurgents launched the attacks around 7am.