No fewer than six villages were, in the early hours of yesterday, razed in Taraba State when armed men suspected to be Fulani raided Chanchanji ward in Takum local government area.
LEADERSHIP learnt that two soldiers deployed from the 93 Battalion in Adda Barracks, Takum, were also killed in the attack.
In Anambra State, a gang of gunmen, also in the early hours of yesterday, sacked a police station in Amichi, Nnewi South LGA, and allegedly made away with 14 AK-47 rifles belonging to the police force.
Both incidents took place at the same time that three suspected members of the Boko Haram sect were being killed by operatives of the Joint Tax Force, JTF, in Kano State.
The burnt Taraba villages include Akenawe, Tse Akanyi, Tse Tortsee, Tse Yongogba, Tse Irimke and Tse Adam.
LEADERSHIP learnt that the joint forces of mobile police and soldiers drafted to the area to contain the recent crisis between Tiv and Fulani were sent by the Taraba State police command and 93 Battalion, Takum.
The two killed soldiers, whose identities were not immediately disclosed, were out in the early hours of yesterday to combat the militants who were burning the villages and also attacking Wukari – Takum road users.
An eye-witness disclosed that the JTF engaged the militants, numbering over 200, in fierce exchange of gunshots during which the two soldiers were killed.
Confirming the incident, the state police public relations officer, Mr Ibiam Mbasike, told our correspondent that the police command had discovered that some highly placed people hired some militants that were causing destruction in the area.
When LEADESHIP visited the Government House, Jalingo, top politicians from the local government area, including the chairman, Tamko Tamti, were in a closed-door meeting with Governor Suntai seeking means to end the crisis.
Meanwhile, a source told LEADERSHIP that at about 3am yesterday, a gang of armed men numbering about seven stormed the police station in Amichi, Anambra State and freed detainees in police custody. They were said to have riddled the buildings in the police station with bullets, leaving one policeman seriously injured.
Our source who is resident in the area said the gang spent close to one hour in the operation, spraying bullets in the air with no resistance coming any from quarters.
The source said that the attack was made easier because the policemen on duty were fast asleep when the gang arrived the station in their black sports utility vehicle (SUV). LEADERSHIP learnt that the police officers on duty were saved by their compliance with the directive of the armed men: they were ordered to lie face down and not attempt any funny tricks. It was gathered that most of the cars that were held by the police, which were parked in the station, were badly damaged.
JTF kills 3 Boko Haram members in Kano
Three suspected Boko Haram members were said to have snatched a Honda 2008 model car at gun point in Kano metropolis before meeting their waterloo in the hands of the JTF operatives.
The general officer commanding the 1st Division, Kaduna, Major General Garba Wahab, told journalists yesterday in Kano that the task force uncovered a grand plan by the sect to launch an attack similar to the one they launched on January 20 in the state capital.
Briefing newsmen after the killing, Major-General Wahab said, “A JTF checkpoint was alerted by an afflicted member of the public whose car was snatched at gun point at his residence by terrorist elements as he entered his house. The car was to be used possibly in the next few days for suicide bombing mission.”
According to him, based on the tip-off, the JTF alerted all its units within the area to look out for a Honda Accord car 2008 model with the colour and description accurately given. He said that the troops at all JTF checkpoints responded with swift alertness and, within 20 minutes, operatives in one of the checkpoints spotted the vehicle in question.
He further stated that the vehicle was flagged down for checking, but the terrorist elements on sighting men of the JTF opened fire at the checkpoint in their desperate bid to get away. Major-General Wahab said that the troops at the checkpoint responded in self-defence and, in the course of the ensuing gunshots, all the three suspected criminals were gunned down.
“During the brief but intense encounter, three of the terrorist elements were gunned down. An immediate search conducted on the vehicle revealed that the occupants had 2 AK 47 rifles, 1 pistol, 1 locally manufactured pistol, 47 rounds of 7.62mm special and 6 rounds of 9mm,” he said.
Boko Haram kills 8 in Maiduguri
Gunmen, suspected to be Boko Haram members yesterday killed eight persons in the popular Maiduguri Monday Market in Borno State during separate attacks.
The first attack took place along Lagos Street in Maiduguri, near the NUJ House, where a renowned TV/Radio technician called Taju was shot dead by two gunmen who alighted from a tricycle and opened fire at him inside his shop. Soldiers at two checkpoints, a few metres away from Taju’s shop could not stop the fleeing gunmen as they escaped amidst people scampering for safety.
An eyewitness who owns a shop across the street told our correspondent in tears that “Taju has been killed. He was killed inside his shop by two gunmen who came on a tricycle, opened fire and fled”.
About an hour later, at exactly 1:35pm, some group of gunmen invaded the crowded Maiduguri Monday Market and opened fire on a group of traders, killing several persons. Both the police and the operatives of the Joint Task Force (JTF) had continued to claim ignorance of the attack until late in the evening.
Traders and customers who witnessed the development, claimed that eight persons were killed in the attack. But the officials of the JTF said only one person was killed. A source from the market also told our correspondent that “we have seen about 7 corpses being taken away in a black military patrol van, a black Hilux.
But the Spokesman of the JTF, Lt -Col Sagir Musa, said in a statement sent via text message at about 8:30pm that the casualty figures were false. LEADERSHIP checks at some of the government hospitals revealed that two corpses had been deposited by the JTF operatives at the morgue of the Maiduguri Specialists’ Hospital.