Islamic terrorists followed through on threats to disrupt Christmas in Maiduguri north eastern Nigeria. Boko Haram infiltrated a civilian convoy which had a military escort travelling into Maiduguri on Christmas day.
Thr jihadists, who were in “several” pickup trucks opened fire on a military checkpoint in Molai, one of the last check points into Maiduguri town, at around 5:30 p.m. (1630 GMT). A gun fight with the military at the check point lasted for more than an hour, the reports said.
A witness who spoke to Global Christian News, In Christmas Day said three persons were burnt alive and a woman is suspected to have been abducted by the Islamists. Confirming the report, a security operative said “It was a serious attack; we are still on patrol at Molai and environs. We have seen three people who were killed. We also learnt that they have abducted a woman in Molai, while they were fleeing.”
A senior military officer in Maiduguri, who requested anonymity, said, “It was clear they wanted to overrun the checkpoint and enter the city to cause mayhem.”
Ibrahim Liman, a militia leader assisting the Nigerian army in fighting the Islamists added: “One of the Boko Haram vehicles infiltrated the middle section of a civilian convoy … and engaged soldiers.
He explained that Boko Haram reinforcements who were lurking in the nearby Cashew Plantation and Jiddari Polo areas joined in the battle,l.
The gunfire sent communities into panic in Molai and residents fled into Maiduguri, further causing even more panic in Maiduguri.
“The situation is now calm, but the people who fled for safety are yet to return. We are trying to ensure that innocent people are safe,” a security source said.
“They said I should not attempt coming home as the insurgents have killed many people, including members of the civilian joint task force and order security personnel around Molai,” a resident said.
Boko Haram has built a reputation on attacking churches at Christmas in about a decade of insurgency.
The military and the Borno State police command has not yet made any statements regarding this incident but the Nigerian Army said on Monday, that three Boko Haram members were killed in two different battles in Borno State. An earlier attack occurred on Saturday 23rd December, also resulted in the recovery of 200 rustled cows from the insurgents, Army spokesperson, Sani Usman, said.
Security had been tightened in most cities in the country prior to the Christmas celebrations with Police and Christian religious leaders asking residents to be vigilant and report suspicious persons and abandoned objects to security personnel.
Also, Christmas day, the army, in Yobe State killed 10 jihadists who tried to attack a military post on a highway linking the two states, according to militia leader Mustapha Karimbe. “Soldiers killed 10 of the terrorists and recovered four pickups while the rest fled,” Karimbe said.
Hassan John is West Africa Editor, GCN and Priest of the Anglican Diocese of Jos.