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Residents of Maiduguri have been thrown into panic following the killing and abduction of several travellers along the Maiduguri-Damaturu expressway in Borno State.
At least 35 commuters were on Friday abducted by Boko Haram insurgents along Damaturu-Maiduguri road.
The 133-kilometre highway is the only major road that links Borno to other parts of the country.
The killing and abduction of travellers on Friday is the latest and deadliest of similar incidents as the insurgents redouble their activities on the road in recent times.
Witnesses on Saturday say armed men believed to be insurgents stormed the highway in large numbers and mounted an illegal checkpoint around Auno, barely 23 kilometres to Maiduguri from where they picked their victims.
According to them, travellers in scores of commercial and private-owned vehicles were caught up in the attack.
However, military authorities have yet to confirm the incident.
Multiple sources also confirmed that the insurgents moved from vehicle to vehicle, scrutinising and interviewing passengers, asking non-Muslims and those not dressed like Muslims to step out of the car they were in.
They also warned the travellers against attempting to escape and those who tried to beat a retreat were instantly shot dead, a survivor revealed.
It is not clear how many people were abducted or how many got killed while trying to escape, but many cars were said to have been set ablaze.
According to witnesses, troops of the Nigerian Army later arrived at the scene after the assailants had retreated.
They directed all the travellers to move back to the next village before they combed the road to ensure it was safe for motorists.
The flow of traffic along the Maiduguri-Damaturu Road has been heavy lately with many people travelling to and fro the city for the holidays.
While air travel is presumed the safest means of transportation in and out of Maiduguri at the moment, many prefer to travel by road.
This, according to them, is as a result of the high cost of tickets to and from Maiduguri which is between N100,000 to N120,000 for Abuja and N170,000 for Lagos.