This is how Boko Haram was able to kill 30 people on an expressway in northeastern Nigeria.
Details have emerged of how the terrorist Boko Haram sect was able to murder over 30 commuters along the Damaturu-Maiduguri expressway on the night of Sunday, February 9, 2020.
The passengers were stuck and stranded on the stretch of road near a military checkpoint mounted because of a curfew, when the terrorists pounced.
According to Bunu Ali, a resident of Auno where the attack occurred, the military had imposed a curfew in the town just days prior.
An unnamed army commander told Reuters that the military closed the road at 3pm on the day of the attack because of the insurgents.
Boko Haram struck around 9pm. Eyewitness said the insurgents attacked on motorbikes; shooting sporadically.
The assault lasted 45 minutes. It was the sixth time since June that Auno had come under attack from Boko Haram.
The commuters had been left to sleep in their cars over the weekend after being locked outside the city gate.
Buhari condemns attack
The insurgents would go on to set several trucks and cars carrying passengers on fire, according to eyewitnesses and residents of Auno.
Passengers who tried to escape through the surrounding bushes were shot from point blank range.
Auno lies 24 km (15 miles) from Maiduguri, the Borno state capital.
At least 18 vehicles were set ablaze and several people were abducted, another eyewitness shared.
A Nigerian Army Commander told Reuters that the casualty figure of 30 as reported by several media outlets, was incorrect. He said the military had recovered 10 bodies on Monday, the day after the attack.
When Borno Governor Babagana Zulum visited the scene on Monday, some of the cars were still smoking with corpses inside them.
“The fact is that we have made several attempts for the Nigeria military to establish their unit in Auno but nothing was done,” Zulum said. “As soon as it is 5 o’clock and they closed up their gate, they abandon the people and move over to Maiduguri."
Leader of the military operation against Boko Haram, Gen. Olusegun Adeniyi, expressed “profound sadness” over the attack, but emphasized that the military needs the highway closed at night so that it can conduct its counterinsurgency campaign against Boko Haram, AFP reports.
“The public must understand, the soldiers expected to go on night patrols in the bushes cannot again be drawn to the road to protect vehicles of people that refused to obey the law,” he said.
“It is not safe to be lining up such a large number of vehicles in this village especially knowing the wicked intentions of Boko Haram," he added.
President Muhammadu Buhari has condemned the attack, with a promise to crush an insurgency that has bedeviled Nigeria since 2009. "Their days are numbered," Buhari said.
“The commitment of this administration to protect the lives of Nigerians will not be derailed by the cowardly and indiscriminate violence against innocent people by Boko Haram terrorists,” the president swore, according to a statement made available by his spokesperson, Garba Shehu.
Borno in northeastern Nigeria is the epicentre of the Boko Haram and ISWAP (Islamic State of West Africa Province) insurgency.
The terrorists have killed thousands, displaced millions and abducted hundreds since the decade-long insurgency commenced.