Not fewer than 70 corpses have been deposited in a morgue at the Specialists Hospital, Maiduguri after Boko Haram attacked Dalori village in Borno State on Saturday, witnesses and security sources said.
Dalori is just about 5km away from Maiduguri with about 1,000 residents.
Security operatives including Civilian-JTF and other aid workers said more corpses still litter the village and surrounding villages, waiting to be evacuated at press time.
The incident was said to have occurred at about 7pm when villagers were concluding the late evening prayers and settling down for supper, when a gang of armed insurgents believed to be Boko Haram rode in about a dozen motorbikes and others in a truck surrounded Dalori and began to shoot sporadically.
Many aged persons, children and women fell down either dead or injured while others scampered to safely. The gunmen were said to have operated for four hours.
Spokesman of the Operation Lafiya Dole Theatre Command, Col Mustapha Anka, confirmed the incident in a statement issued to journalists on Sunday.
He added that the Theatre Commander of the operation has visited the attacked villages and would issue a statement much later after all facts are gathered.
Anka said, “We have visited the place together with the Theatre Commander this morning where we made on the ground assessment and would make statement later; but that will be after getting all the information”
Residents said the attack was one of the worst in recent time, second to the Baga attack of 2013.
A resident who claimed that most of his relatives in Dalori were affeced, Alamin Bakura, said, “To say the least, this is the worst carnage of all after that of Baga town that happened some four years ago.
“I could not stand the horror of seeing pile up of corpses of burnt children, women and aged persons everywhere; no single house is left standing in Dalori; practically every structure that stands in the name of house has been burnt down in the four hours of attack carried out by the Boko Haram gunmen. I am very sure the corpses I saw were not less that 100; in some houses you would see three burnt corpses, others two, some one and so on.”
Bakura further disclosed that the gunmen dressed in military uniforms and invaded the village on bikes and a light armoured vehicles.
“When we were fleeing to the main road towards Maiduguri, we saw some uniformed men asking us to come over to their side; we thought they were real soldiers, but as we approached them they opened fire on us, many people died; only few of us managed to scamper to safety”, Bakura added.
While some of the fleeing villagers managed to escape from the town towards Maiduguri, female suicide bombers who pretended to be fleeing to safety joined them.
But as the fleeing crowd got to a village called Gomari about 3km away from Maiduguri, soldiers who were being cautious about letting in suicide bombers into the town amidst the fleeing villagers, stopped them for some screening. But before the soldiers could figure out how to go about screening the crowd in the dark of the night, three bombs exploded from three suicide bombers, which reportedly killed dozens there.
“But unfortunately as we suspected, three bombs went off from amongst the crowded villagers which killed many people”, said a soldier, who sought anonymity.
A local photojournalist, who visited Dalori and also sought anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the matter said, “Dalori is completely burnt. Nothing remains there. I saw corpses that were yet to be evacuated; mostly burnt like barbecued animals”
The photographer added that women who fled and left their children behind returned wailing as they found most of their children burnt beyond recognition.
According to him, a particular household was seen searching for apparels from the burnt pack of clothing to cover the body of their dead relatives for burial.
A resident of Maiduguri, and private security operative, Abba Shehu, told journalists that “the situation was really bad in Dalori; corpses are still being piled, many had died in the bush; but it is not easy to give figures now”.
One of the survivors from the village, who sought anonymity, said he had to climb a tree to hide as he saw people being killed while fleeing.
He said, “They were speaking our language and I could pick from what they were saying to each other”.
In his condolence visit to Dalori, the Theater Commander Operation Lafiya Dole, Major General Hassan Umaru condoled with the District Head, Alh. Lawal Bashir and entire dwellers for the unfortunate incident. He assured the people of the command’s commitment to bringing insurgency to an end soon.
He commended the villagers for their resilience and urged them to be strong and committed to the fight against insurgency. He also commended NEMA, SEMA, Red Cross and other stakeholders for their tireless humanitarian efforts.