Gunmen believed to be members of Boko Haram Thursday ambushed vehicles travelling along the Maiduguri-Damaturu highway and abducted seven travellers, a witness said.
According to a passenger who escaped the attack, the insurgents, driving in two Hilux vehicles, waylaid two unsuspecting vehicles – a Volkswagen golf and a Toyota Hiace Mass Transit bus belong to the Adamawa Sunshine Transport Company. They took seven passengers from the vehicles, the source said.
The source, who witnessed the incident, said the attackers were all armed and some were dressed in military uniforms.
The eyewitness, who asked not to be named, said the attack took place a few kilometres from Auno village. Auno is an agrarian community about 20km from Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.
“They came in two Hilux jeeps; and as we were driving towards Auno, after Jakana village, they stormed the highway and stopped a Volkswagen golf car that was ahead and forced every person, including the driver out,” the source said.
“While this was happening, a 19-seater Toyota Hiace bus of the Adamawa Sunshine Toyota ran into the scene and could not escape the gunmen. So they forced two passengers on the bus to come down and then took all of them away in their vehicle.
“While this was happening, our driver quickly reversed back and made a u-turn to Jakana where we joined other vehicles there.
“We spent about two hours and 30 minutes in Jakana until we saw a reticulated truck coming from the direction of Maiduguri. After gauging the risk, all the vehicles that stopped at Jakana decided to summon the courage to proceed carefully until we got to the scene of the attack.
“At the spot, we met the golf car abandoned in the middle of the road with all the doors left open. When we got to Auno, we saw the driver of Adamawa Sunshine being questioned by soldiers. He then told our driver that two of his passengers have been taken away.”
The source said the spot where the Boko Haram attacked was not far from a military checkpoint.
Auno, Jakana and Mainok villages, all located along the Maiduguri-Kano highway, have been flagged by the military as a hotspot for Boko Haram activities.
The military had on Tuesday planned to evacuate the entire communities to an IDP camp in order to carry out search operations in the area, but their plan was thwarted by the Borno State governor who raised concerns that the exercise would put more persons in the state capital in danger. He also said the military did not inform the state and federal governments before executing the plan. He advised that the military and other security agencies should step up their operations on the highway rather than “closing the road.”
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Since December last year, Boko Haram has continued to carry out its threat of making the Maiduguri-Kano highway ungovernable by carrying such repeated attacks.
The police and the military could not be reached at the moment to comment on this development. However, sources at the Borno Express bus terminus in Maiduguri confirmed receiving a report about the abduction of the passengers.