Daily Trust (Abuja)

21 October 2012

Nigeria: Bloodbath - 34 Killed in Potiskum

Damaturu — Potiskum, the biggest business district in Yobe State, yesterday recorded different sets of tragedies following the sacking of many families in the dead of the night on Friday by yet to be identified assailants.

A retired customs boss and his son were killed in one of the incidents, while a retired police sergeant, his wife and three children were killed in another ambush, even as a tractor driver and six of his children were killed in yet another night attack, all in Potiskum, witnesses said.

Witnesses told our reporters that the killings were carried out simultaneously and in a "commando style," despite the restriction of movements in the town.

Waziri Ajiya, the retired Area Comptroller of the Nigeria Customs Service and his son, Dr Ibrahim Waziri, were reportedly taken to the outskirt of Potiskum in the early hours of yesterday and slaughtered, witnesses said.

Waziri retired from the Customs in 2003 and was a close ally of Adamu Maina Waziri, a former Minister of Police Affairs.

Similarly, the retired police sergeant, Haruna Adamu, his wife and three children were also attacked by unidentified gunmen in their house in Potiskum, the town which many people said is now under siege.

Beside the two incidents, a tractor driver working at the Agricultural Department of Potiskum Local Government was also killed in his house.

Six of his children were also killed in the same premises at Old Barrack Settlement in Potiskum," witnesses said.

Residents said a teacher at the Government Day Secondary, Potiskum was also killed in the dead of the night yesterday and the corpse was dumped behind the house of the deceased.

Yobe State commissioner of Police, Patrick Egbuniwe, confirmed some of Saturday's killings, saying, "The hoodlums are trying to adopt the same operation like the one they did in Damaturu which we stopped."

He said that effort was being made to track the assailant, "We have planned another strategy and this serial killings most stop," he said.

The serial killings took place less than 48 hours after a gun battle ensued between suspected gunmen of Jama'atu Ahlis Sunnati Lidda'awati Wal Jihad, also known as Boko Haram, and security forces in Potiskum.

Details of Friday's encounter emerged yesterday as witnesses said they had counted about 34 dead bodies at the General Hospital in Potiskum.

The identities of the dead bodies could not be established because security forces were yet to come out with a statement, even as families who have not seen their loved ones have been denied access to the hospital's mortuary.

During Friday's encounter, many houses and business premises were destroyed. Many families have fled their homes. "By Saturday morning, there were about 34 corpses in and around the mortuary but the number reduced to 20 later in the afternoon," a source at the hospital said.

"I personally counted 20 corpses but security agents have sealed off the morgue area. Only women are now allowed into the patient wards in the hospital," another hospital source said.

He revealed that he saw a corpse of few uniform men, including that of a police Sergeant.

Sunday Trust reports that there were also similar attacks last Wednesday in Potiskum, which left scores of people dead.

Few hours after the incident, Lieutenant Lazarus Eli, the spokesman of the Joint Task Force (JTF) in Yobe State, issued a statement where he said men of the JTF, acting on information, had cordoned off a suspected hideout of insurgents at Anguwan Jaji area of Potiskum town in Yobe State.

He said in the process of searching the area, improvised explosive devices (IEDs) were thrown at JTF troops.

"Exchange of fire between men of JTF and the suspected terrorists followed. Some arms were recovered and the search is still ongoing," he said.

Residents of the areas said many people, including JTF operatives, insurgents and civilians lost their lives, while houses were demolished, a development which forced many people, including women and children, to flee.

Many residents in Potiskum decried what they called "serial killings" and pleaded with relevant authorities to find a lasting solution to the problem.

Some bereaved families said they had resolved to bury the bodies of their loved ones without waiting for "go ahead" from authorities.

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