At least 20 people were killed on Friday as members of the Boko Haram attacked Mainok Village in Borno State, witnesses and security sources have said.
Soldiers, who arrived Mainok after the insurgents had wrecked havoc on the community, then chased the attackers, killing about 48 of them, PREMIUM TIMES learnt.
The Mainok market was attacked on Friday at about 1:30 p.m. as traders planned to suspend trading to go observe the Friday ‘Jumat’ prayers.
More than a dozen traders were killed in the market while others who were fleeing were either injured by stray bullets, or knocked down by vehicles as they ran across the Kano-Maiduguri highway.
Alloy Ikechukwu, a traveller from Lagos to Maiduguri, told journalists on Friday that he was lucky to survive the attack. He said a luxurious bus conveying him and several other passengers was passing through Mainok when the insurgents attacked the market.
“We boarded a luxury bus from Lagos and as soon as we arrived Mainok at exactly 1.30 p.m., we heard heavy gunshot from the western part of the market and sporadic gunshots followed,” Mr. Ikechukwu said. “Hundreds of traders and residents fled the market in confusion, running to cross the highway to the other side while vehicles passing through the town were also making attempts to flee the town. It was such confusion.”
Mr. Chukwu said he saw many of the fleeing residents hit by vehicles speeding off from the area.
“Vehicles were hitting one another and the Boko Haram kept shooting,” he added.
A police officer in Maiduguri who was also travelling through Mainok narrated his experience.
“From the sound of the first shot fired at the market, I knew there was problem because the attackers first fired Rapid Propelled Grenade (RPG) into the middle of the market before they started firing into the midst of the confused traders,” he said.
A senior security official in Maiduguri, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed that at least 20 people were killed in the Mainok attack.
The official also said at least 48 of the terrorists were killed by soldiers who chased the terrorists while the latter returned to their base in Damboa town.
He blamed poor service by telecom networks for the late arrival of the soldiers.
“Due to the poor telecom network around Mainok town, troops (from 7 Division in Maiduguri) could not get the alert on time, until they (Boko Haram) had attacked and killed some of the traders – about 20 or so – and even stole money and food items from the poor traders”, the official told PREMIUM TIMES.
“But as soon as the message got to us, troops arrived Mainok and tracked them towards the direction and were able to intercept them as they were taking some rest or attending to a broken down vehicle.
“It was another tough battle but within hours, our gallant soldiers subdued them, as we counted 48 corpses and recovered several weapons and vehicle abandoned by some few others who fled.”
Friday’s attack was not the first by the insurgents on Mainok, a community 56km from Maiduguri along Maiduguri – Kano Expressway.
On March 4, at least 38 people were killed when Boko Haram gunmen attacked Mainok at night. The insurgents also set several property ablaze.
Since the March attack, a large number of Mainok residents have fled the village, but would come on Fridays to observe the weekly market there.