Gunmen who ambushed commuters have abducted about thirty five travelers along the Maiduguri-Damaturu Highway, considered extremely dangerous between 9am and 2pm when the route is busy
The bandits alleged to be in military uniforms drove out of the bush in five Hilux vans, and thereafter waylaid nine commercial vehicles and forcefully drove the victims into the bush.
The source said the incident occurred on Friday at about 11am,adding that the first victim of the terrorists was a Dangote Group of Company truck whose driver was shot and the truck subsequently set ablaze.
“The insurgents who were dressed in military uniforms drove out of the bush in five Hilux vans. They later waylaid nine commercial vehicles and forced away from the passengers into the bush”, the source said
The source said the passengers initially sighted a burning fire, but they thought it was bush burning, not knowing it was an ambush, adding that on approaching the scene, the insurgents caught up with them.
“However, as the other cars were approaching the scene, they suddenly sighted the insurgents moving towards them on trucks mounted with weapons. Before they could turn their vehicles to run, the insurgents had already caught up with them’.
“Many of the passengers fled into the bush, but about 35 of them were abducted. Two private vehicles and one truck were also set ablaze. Nine other passenger vehicles belonging to the abducted travellers were also abandoned at the scene while their properties were looted,” the sources added.
A spokesman for the Civilian-Joint Task Force,Danbatta Bello speaking on the ugly development, expressed concern, adding that the situation along Maiduguri-Damaturu highway has gone out of control
“Though we have deployed our personnel in the Rapid Response Squad to patrol the road, especially the identified flashpoints, the insurgent would still spring a surprise attack on other unusual spots of the highway,” he said.
An official of the taskforce who prefer anonymity blamed the incessant attacks on the road to amnesty given to some of the so-called “repentant” members of terrorist group by the federal government through its Operation Safe Corridor programme.
“Some of us have said it time and again that you cannot be pardoning known Boko Haram insurgents when the war is still ongoing, but no one listens to us. Most of the attacks occurring especially along the Maiduguri-Kano are being coordinated by the insurgents in the bush and those pardoned and allowed to come and live in the communities’.
‘The one in towns and villages usually give credible intelligence on vehicular movements and which direction the patrol teams have taken. That’s why each time they strike it becomes very difficult for patrol teams to go for the rescue,” he said.
A top official of the local vigilante in Maiduguri, Bunu Bulama who also confirmed the incident, said about six vehicles were filled with passengers and taken into the bush.
“I cannot say the exact number of persons abducted but I know they are many. Last night the driver of the Dangote trailer whose vehicle was shot made a distress call at night informing some of his colleagues who later contacted us that he was shot but managed to escape’.
‘He said he was bleeding seriously and needed help. We quickly alerted the Crack Squad of the police, but I doubt if they could rescue him that night”, Bulama recalled
Meanwhile, as at the time of filing this report, the Police Public Relations Officer, Ini Ekong, was yet to make official statement on the development, while efforts to get him on phone has not been successful
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