Premium Times (Abuja)

12 February 2014

Nigeria: Boko Haram Razes Borno Village, Konduga, Kills 39 - Governor Weeps

Photo: Aminu Abubakar/IRIN
A man stands outside his destroyed home in Borno State.

Gunmen suspected to be members of the outlawed Boko Haram sect, Tuesday night, attacked Konduga, a village 35km from Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.

At least 39 persons were killed in the attack while several others were injured, residents and government officials said.

They said hundreds of houses were also burnt.

The attackers, who invaded the quiet agrarian town at about 6 p.m. on Tuesday, did not leave until four hours later, after they had burnt down hundreds of homes, schools, clinics and the central mosque using bombs and sophisticated arms.

A grocery seller in the village, Mustapha Umar, who spoke to journalists, said the insurgents that attacked them were over 400.

"They are very plenty, at least 400 of them because anywhere you turn to, you see them in tens moving and shooting", he said. "We had to flee for our dear lives; even the few soldiers in town could not stand them because their guns were mounted on vehicles while some threw explosives that brought down the Central mosque, the maternity clinic, the district head's palace and several other places."

The petty trader said, "More than 50 people were injured and taken to the hospital, while we are now preparing to bury 39 of our people that died. We don't know how much would be found in the bushes later".

Governor condoles residents

Walking amidst debris of burnt houses and buildings, the Borno State governor, Kashim Shettima, wept all through as he commiserated with villagers, mostly women and children whose homes and houses were razed.

"We will never give in to the antics of the Boko Haram. This is our land we will stay here and salvage it together," Mr. Shettima said.

"We will never be frustrated; we will never give in to Boko Haram. Look at what these lunatics did; they burnt down mosques; churches, they burnt hapless people's homes and so on; I don't know whether to call them criminals or lunatics; the issue of people linking them with the religion of Islam should not arise, because as I always said Islam does not sanction what these lots are doing."

The villagers cried for shelter, food, and clothing as the governor consoled them.

He directed the commissioner for local government and chieftaincy affairs "to immediately effect the release of N100million for the immediate renovation and rebuilding of the burnt homes, schools, clinics, and other worship places".

"I sympathise deeply with the people of Konduga over this unfortunate incident. It was more shocking given the intensity of the attack. I have told the people that come rain come shine we all have to stay in Borno and salvage the situation together. We have immediately ordered for the release of N100 million to start the rehabilitation work and the purchase of items like food, clothing, beddings and so on, for the hapless victims of this madness.

"I have gone round the town and have seen that up to 70 per cent of the town have been razed to the ground. Most facilities have been burnt down; schools, hospital, dispensaries, government office and even the district palace have been burnt. We are willing to expend whatever resources it will take to restore back those facilities. Even if it cost us a billion naira to fix back the damages; so be it," the governor said.

Soldiers have failed

Residents who spoke to PREMIUM TIMES said they were not happy because the soldiers did not protect them during the attack.

"Even the soldiers that we trusted to defend us had to flee; if the soldiers say they could not stand their superior weapons, who are we to feel safe any longer; we need more soldiers, this is the second time in the last three week in this local government", said Abba Bashir, a trader.

But the state governor believes the soldiers tried their best, given the poor equipment they have and their low morale.

He said, "Frankly speaking the officers and men of the Nigerian Army and the Nigerian Police force are doing their best given the circumstance they face; but all of us know that the Boko Haram are better armed and better motivated.

"We seriously believe there is the need for additional troops, and additional support from the military. But I am an eternal optimist; and I hope and pray that the federal government will very soon rise against the challenges of the day. We hope with the impending appointment of a very celebrated retired army general as the minister of Defence, we are seeing light at the end of the tunnel, Insha Allah".

"We really need more troops here in Borno State. As we are talking now, I learnt that an attack by Boko Haram is ongoing right in Izge Town of Gwoza Local Government Area. As we are talking at the moment, the boys are burning down the town of Izge; and this is unfortunate," the governor said at about 2:00 p.m.

"I am not holding brief for the military, but I am working closely with them and the Nigeria police force. I know they are handicapped. I know they are highly committed to fighting this war. I mean this counter-insurgency operation. But they have their own problems. The Boko Haram insurgency seems to be beyond them.

"But without additional troops on ground, and more modern equipment, there is no way we can win this war. You know the Boko Haram are more sophisticated; and they came in with more sophisticated arms, anti-air craft rifles and bombs, which our military do not have. They have no option than to flee for dear lives just like the common civilians."

Mr. Shettima, who spent about five hours in the attacked town, had to participate in the mass funeral for the 39 deceased person at the premises of the Konduga central mosque which was also bombed to rubbles during the attack.

The governor said he would not leave Konduga until some of the relief items he ordered for the people began to arrive.

"I am not going to Maiduguri until 5 p.m. when the relief items I ordered to be brought arrived. I have warned that no one should bother me with security risk of being in Konduga town for long. Anybody that is in my government and is willing to work with me must be prepared to share in the plight of the people by remaining here with them.

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