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Thousands of residents of villages on the outskirts of Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, fled their communities at the weekend following intensified attacks by the insurgent group, Boko Haram.
The terrorists had lately resorted to suicide bombing of soft targets, using mainly women, after the military chased them out of territories they occupied. President Muhammadu Buhari maintains that the expulsion of Boko Haram from the areas they controlled is a technical defeat of the group.
But Boko Haram fighters resumed coordinated attacks on communities in Borno State recently. They killed 65 persons in Dalori two Saturdays ago and laid siege to two other nearby villages, Mairi and Malari, Friday night where they killed four persons and virtually razed the entire community.
The renewed offensive by Boko Haram has led to the desertion of many communities in the suburbs of Maiduguri by residents. Some residents of the villages affected by the latest onslaught said the insurgents first attacked Mairi about 8pm and killed four persons, a teenage boy and three women, before proceeding to Malari village, where the entire village was razed, as the terrorists met a deserted village.
One of the residents, Abba Yusuf, told THISDAY at Mairi village that the insurgents shot the teenage boy who was a student at a local Islamic school during the attack. He said the three women were trapped in a razed house, as they were unlucky to escape the raging inferno. They died in the building.
Yusuf said after the destruction of Mairi, about 11 kilometres from Maiduguri, the insurgents went to Malari village, a few kilometres away, and almost razed the entire village when they found no one there. The villagers had fled after receiving hints about the Boko Haram attack and hearing sounds of gunshot from neighbouring Malari.
When THISDAY visited the area yesterday, thousands of residents were seen heading towards Maiduguri with their luggage on their heads. One of the fleeing locals, Hassanatu Abubakar, said, “It will be a suicide mission to continue to live in the area as the insurgents may still attack.” She said the insurgents were still around them and “they can still come to finish the job they have started.”
The senator for Borno Central senatorial district, where the attacks took place, Alhaji Baba Kaka Garbai, lamented the recent attacks in the state, saying the military needs to wake up to the new threat on the people of the state. He said the insurgents had shown that they “are not truly dead and buried and it is time for our soldiers to come back to the reality that much more still needs to be done and start pushing forward until these hoodlums are defeated.”