No fewer than 300 people were killed on Monday night in Gamboru Ngala, a border town with Cameroun, when heavily armed Boko Haram insurgents laid siege to the town in Borno State.
THISDAY was informed that the insurgents targeted a local market, where they fired sporadically into the crowd before proceeding to the town to wreak more havoc.
Gamboru, situated along Nigeria-Cameroun border, is the administrative headquarters of Ngala Local Government Area of the troubled Borno State. It is about 200km from Maiduguri, the state capital.
Senator Ahmed Zannah, who represents the area in the Senate, confirmed the killings. He said the invaders spent about 12 hours wreaking havoc on the defenceless Nigerians.
He revealed that several other persons were also injured in the attack, while almost all the houses and shops in the town were burnt down.
The senator, who spoke on the Hausa service of the BBC, said many people were wounded, while surviving victims had been rendered homeless as thousands of houses and shops were burnt by the rampaging gunmen.
He claimed that the attackers were armed with dangerous weapons comprising armoured personnel carriers (APCs), improvised explosive devices (IEDs), petrol bombs, assault rifles and rocket propelled grenades (RPGs).
"The attackers stormed the communities in the night when residents were asleep, setting ablaze houses and shot residents who tried to escape from the fire," he said.
He added: "About 300 persons were confirmed dead after the incident, with several others injured. Almost all the houses in the communities were destroyed by the hoodlums who threw IEDs at the buildings. "My brother who was at the scene of the attack told me that the actual number of the dead cannot be ascertained but at least they are up to 300.
"In fact as we spoke, he wept as a result of the high number of the dead bodies which littered the market." According to him, the security forces deployed in the area had moved to the Lake Chad axis when they received intelligence reports that some gunmen were sighted with abducted schoolgirls moving to the area.
"Initially there were many security operatives in the town to secure it from possible attacks. However upon receiving information over the movement of insurgents with kidnapped Chibok schoolgirls towards Lake Chad area, they withdrew and moved to confront the gunmen.
"It was just an hour after their withdrawal that the terrorists invaded the town, shooting everyone in sight and setting buildings on fire. So far, 200 vehicles and thousands of houses, shops and an outfit of the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) have all been burnt," he disclosed.
A local government official who declined identification also confirmed the number of casualties. "It is really a terrible situation, we had wanted to rush relief materials to the area to provide temporary succour to the victims. But we were prevailed upon by security agents to shelve our plans for security reasons," he said.
The official appealed to the state and federal governments to assist the area with resources that could be used to rehabilitate the victims. .