Hundreds Still Missing After baga Massacre
Residents of Baga in Kukawa Local Government area of Borno,where about 200 persons were reportedly killed in a deadly confrontation between the Boko Haram sect and soldiers of the Multinational Joint Task Force, JTF, at the weekend are in search of their relatives who have gone missing.
The search for the missing residents of the commercial and border town is on top gear, even as part of the town has been cordoned off by the military, making the movement within and outside the town very difficult.
The Military authority has also disclosed that many of the insurgents who attacked the soldiers during the deadly clash have been arrested and are presently in custody.
It was also gathered from the town that search was on as at yesterday for some of the insurgents. It was reported that a house to house search for the fleeing members of the sect was been conducted.
The commander of the MTF, Brig. Gen. Austin Edokpaye said his men have arrested a substantial number of the people who led the attack on them.
Edokpaye claimed that the soldiers have exercised restraint for so long under intense provocation from the insurgents and that the weekend clash was highly a provocative one.
He said during one of such provocations in the past, a soldier was beheaded in the town by the terrorists who took cover in the community after the dastardly act.
He equally said at another time, soldiers were ambushed by the insurgents during which a soldier was killed and the terrorists were shielded by the members of the community.
Edokpaye said though the terrorists have always come to Baga to tax the people of the town, no formal complaints had been brought to his men even as the residents of the town continued to shield the sect members.
The Commander said that the Military had intelligent report before the weekend attack on soldiers, and when the people of the town were approached for assistance, it never came.
He said: “The terrorists have been taxing the people for so long. We also got information that they were prepared to attack us and we confronted the people, but they denied.”
Edokpaye claimed that the conflagration of weekend was never the making of the military, but rather due to the weapon deployed by the insurgents. He affirmed that the Military was at no time unprofessional in it’s task in the area.
Some of the residents of Baga who sneaked into Maiduguri told journalists that they found it difficult to get to their people in the troubled town as they had to run for their lives.
One of them, who simply identified himself as Modu, said all attempts to get to the people back home has proved abortive as the network is completely shutdown. He said the last he heard from them was that many people are still missing and that there is house to house search for sect members.
Meanwhile, difficulty of accessing the area may have affected the distribution of relief materials to it’s residents, as gathered yesterday.
A source in the National Emergency Management Agency told journalists yesterday that it was difficult to get to the area and that the agency was waiting on the Joint Task Force in Maiduguri to provide security.
The source who spoke anonymously with journalists, said the agency was at at the time of filing this report spoken with the JTF to organize some soldiers who will escort them to the area for the distribution.
In a related development, the Military has come up with its own figure of casualties recorded during the Baga clash.
The Multi National Joint Task Force in a statement by it’s commander, Brig. Gen. Austin Edokpaye claimed that 37 persons including a soldier. It said 15 others, 5 soldiers and 10 civilians were also injured.
Among the civilians killed, Edokpaye said 30 were insurgents while the other six civilians were cut in the crossfire.
He further disclosed that recovered arms and ammunitions include, three rocket propelled grenade launchers, two rocket propelled grenade bombs, four AK 47 rifles, 435 ammunitions, several quantities of IED materials, three damaged Land Cruiser vehicles belonging to the terrorists.
The commander said contrary to media speculation that hundreds of houses were burnt, it was the explosion from the Boko Haram terrorists bombs that triggered the fire that torched “30 thatched houses in the predominantly fishing community.
– Daily Post
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