About 23 persons were Tuesday killed, while several others were abducted when suspected members of the outlawed Boko Haram sect dressed in military laid siege on the Maiduguri/Damaturu highway.
The gunmen were also said to have burnt about 100 houses, shops and scores of vehicles in Benisheikh town, which lies on a highway of about 72-kilometre West of Maiduguri.
According to police sources and eyewitnesses, the sect members were said to have dressed in military fatigues on Tuesday evening, attacking motorists on the highway near Benisheikh town of Borno State, killing about 23 persons, and abducting several others in the process.
Sources hinted further that many among those killed were residents of Maiduguri, who had journeyed to Damaturu and other parts of Yobe State to make phone calls as the GSM lines remained lockdown in Borno State since May, this year, following a clampdown on insurgents.
Speaking on the development, the Special Adviser on Labour to Borno State Governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, who hails from the town, Alhaji Garba Ngamdu, told journalists that the gunmen killed five persons in Benisheikh and set ablaze about 100 houses and shops.
“The attack occurred in the evening of Tuesday at about 6 p.m., when the Boko Haram gunmen attacked our town, killing five persons and burning several houses, not less than hundred had been counted. They also attacked motorists and killed several persons of which I cannot give actual figure of casualties,” Ngamdu said.
He added that: “Based on the information at hand only five residents of the area were killed. A large chunk of the victims were motorists travelling on the highway although we do not have a tentative figure yet.”
State Police Commissioner, Mr. Tanko Lawan confirmed the incident to journalists yesterday, but said the command was yet to get details of the incident.
“It was an unfortunate incident that happened in Benisheikh. But we are yet to get details of what happened especially on casualty figure. We have sent a team of our men down there to ascertain what happened so that we can brief the press properly,” Lawan said.
Recounting his ordeal to journalists in Maiduguri, a commercial driver, Mr. Haliru Ismail said his vehicle was burnt and some of his passengers were shot at, while others were taken away by the gunmen.
Ismail added that: “The gunmen, who attacked us were dressed like soldiers, and carrying heavy arms”, adding that: “After they stopped us, they asked us all to come down from the bus; and then one of them hit me on the head with the butt of his gun. It was then I knew they were not soldiers and I had to fall on the ground and pretend to be unconscious. They started firing, and asking some others including women to enter their packed vehicles. They were more than 30 in number dressed in military uniform.”
Troops had since been deployed to the area to hunt down the members of the outlawed sect.