As more facts continued to emerge from the Auno attack on Sunday along Maiduguri/Damaturu highway, the Theatre Commander Operation Lafiya Dole, Maj. Gen. Olusegun Adeniyi, told journalists that only ten people were killed in the incident.
The Newshawk recalls Borno Governor Babagana Zulum, who also visited the scene of the attack, said he was briefed by the villagers that about 30 people were roasted in the fire ignited by the insurgents at about 9.30pm on Sunday.
The villagers informed the Governor that an unspecified number of women were abducted during the attack but the report has not been verified nor confirmed by any authority.
But the Theatre Commander Operation Lafiya Dole denied the report, stating: “I have no knowledge of a military tanker on that road at that time”.
The Theatre Commander also told journalists that his men averted another tragedy that would have brought sadness by rescuing three school children briskly abducted by Boko Haram along Gubio road.
He noted that his men fought skillfully and rescued the three children( two girls and a boy) unhurt.
The children were handed over to their parents by the theatre commander.
Speaking further on the Auno attack, Adeniyi called on the public to avoid been stuck at certain locations along Maiduguri road.
He stressed that people should plan their movement very well along the Damaturu Maiduguri road so that they will not be stuck at some of these locations.
“We normally close the Damaturu road by 5.00pm and it is expected that you time your movement very well so that you get to Maiduguri by 5.0pm of Damaturu by 5pm because the soldiers cannot leave to fight Boko Haram and come back to protect people sleeping on the road who refuse to obey the law in the first place,” Maj. Gen. Adeniyi advised.
Adeniyi informed that the insurgents came on motor cycle and parked them from a distance and walked down to burn down vehicles of travellers.
“We will do more to ensure that incident like this does not happen again. I am calling on all stakeholders to make the Maiduguri Damaturu road safe. Until the people realised that there is a counter-insurgency going on throughout the northeast.
“As a result of the dastardly activities of the Boko Haram, certain measures have to be taken to safeguard lives and property and the military to conducting counter-insurgency, especially on Maiduguri Damaturu road.
Zulum sympathised with the people of the community and called on them to give the necessary cooperation to the military.
The residents accused soldiers of the town of locking up the town and leaving for Maiduguri and leaving them without protection.
Zulum also collaborated on the accusations of the residents, saying that he has made several appeals for the military to establish a unit in Auno but to no avail.
“We have to be brutal in telling the truth. I am pushed to the wall to say the truth. Since I was inaugurated as governor of Borno State, Boko Haram have attacked Auno six times. Another thing is that the military have withdrawn from Auno town.
“I am not undermining the capacity of the military, but we have made repeated appeal for the military to establish their unit in Auno. They are here but as soon as it is 5 pm, they close the gate and lock the people and go back to Maiduguri. This is not right,” Gov. Zulum raged with anger.
But the Garison Commander of 7 Div. Nigeria Army Maiduguri, Brig. Gen. Sunday Igbinomwanhia, refuted the allegations, saying the soldiers closed the roads and withdraw to the outskirts of the town to protect the villagers, as well as prevent and lunch ambushes on the insurgents.
Eyewitnesses disclosed that many vehicles loaded with goods, shops and houses were set ablaze by the suspected insurgents, who sneaked into the town and launched attack on sleeping travellers at the town which is 24 km to Maiduguri, Borno State capital.
Adamu Tella a commercial driver, who used the road told our correspondent that he saw three corpses been conveyed by Civilian JTF.
“I could not count the number of vehicles that were burnt. But I saw three burnt corpses in a vehicle of civilian JTF. I also saw many houses and shops burnt down to ashes,” Adamu informed.
Adamu also informed that his driver friend’s vehicle was also burnt in the incident.
Another eyewitness, Haruna Yunusa, a passenger, said he saw three burnt dead bodies and counted 21 vehicles including trailers, some of them still under fire as at the time he passed through the town on Monday morning.
Auno is one of the towns located along the Maiduguri/Damaturu road which has recently come under serious attacks by the Boko Haram insurgents.