INSURGENTS on Sunday launched attacks on three villages near Chibok in Borno State, setting ablaze five churches and killing no fewer than 48.
In the offensive, which was said to have lasted for about four hours, the terrorists attacked churches during Sunday worship, shot at worshippers and set the church buildings ablaze.
A resident said, ‘‘Boko Haram stormed Kautikari, Kwada and Karagau villages early in the morning at about 8.45am.
“The attackers locked worshippers inside the church and rained bullets on them.”
The source said 30 persons were shot dead in Kwada while about nine were killed in Karagau.
According to the source, no fear than nine worshippers were killed inside the Kautikari EYN church.
A youth leader in the area, Mr. Moses Zakwa, who spoke to one of our correspondents, said, “The communities that were attacked are Kwada, Kautikari and Karagau, all in the Chibok Local Government Area. As of now, over 20 persons have been confirmed dead, 10 of which I know personally.
“My cousin and one of my uncles were among those killed. He had three wives and over 20 children and he was killed in cold blood. The attack started around 8.00am and it lasted for over four hours
“The gunmen also opened fire on worshippers in a church service. People have not been sleeping at home. Some have run into the nearby bush to hide because their lives are at risk.”
Zakwa is the president of the Kibaku Youth Association.
Another Chibok indigene, Manasseh Allen, also confirmed the attack in a telephone chat with our correspondent.
“We need divine help,” he said, adding that Kautikari is the second largest town in Chibok council area.
A member of the Borno State House of Assembly, representing Chibok constituency, Mr. Aimu Foni, also toldThe PUNCH, “It’s obvious this was a Boko Haram attack because three days ago, they threatened to attack.”
The attack on Kwada, Karagau and Kautikari villages came exactly 74 days after members of the terrorist Islamic sect, Boko Haram, abducted well over 200 pupils of the Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, on April 14.
The insurgents had two weeks ago written to the council area that they would attack it again.
Indigenes on Sunday listed the churches burnt down in the attacked communities to include a branch of the Deeper Life Christian Ministry, COCIN and EYN.
“They (the insurgents) killed and burnt down houses after they had attacked worshippers in five churches in Kwada, and advanced to Kautikari less than eight kilometres to Chibok town, killing and burning down people’s houses and properties,” another indigene, Malam Yahi, told one of our correspondents on the phone from Chibok.
“As of now we do not know about the efforts of the security agents, whether they are on ground or not but all our people, those who can flee have run into the bush and are being pursued by the murderers,” Yahi added.
A top local government official in Chibok town, who did not want his name published, told journalists on Sunday afternoon that “our people have fled into the bushes and we can only appeal that security men are immediately drafted to the town and environs.”
He complained that on receipt of the threat letter two weeks back, they had gone to the police to seek maximum protection but that the police authorities had told them then that they had logistic problem.
The attacks on the area caused apprehension even in the state capital, Maiduguri, as some of the indigenes of Chibok in the town were said to be making panic phone calls to their relations back home.
Most of the churches in Maiduguri were also said to have embarked on prayer sessions, asking for God’s intervention after receiving the news of ongoing attacks on their home community.
There was no word from security agents on the fresh attack on Chibok as of the time of this report.
In a related development, Sunday worship in Abuja churches were said to have been filled with testimonies by survivors of last Wednesday’s bombing of the EMAB Plaza in Wuse II area of the Federal Capital City.
Twenty one persons were killed in the blast that rocked the shopping mall. One of the dead victims of the blast is the Managing Editor (North) of the New Telegraph, Malam Suleiman Bissala.
One of our correspondents reported instances of long queues of testifiers in many Pentecostal churches in the city, with many of them narrating how they were divinely saved from death.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Army on Sunday beefed up security on Abuja major highways to forestall another blast in the nation capital.
Our correspondent observed that soldiers had set up checkpoints on the airport road and in the central area of the city, checking contents in the boots of vehicles.
The development slowed down traffic in the areas but motorists expressed satisfaction with the stop – and – search arrangement, which they claimed would further curb the activities of the insurgents.
A cab driver, Mr. Ibrahim Bello, noted that apart from the fact that the presence of the soldiers on the road would scare bombers, the action would also minimise speeding, which he said remained the major cause of accidents on the highways.