JTF's reprisal attack claimed 50 lives in Maiduguri

Operatives of the Joint Task Force, made up of soldiers, on Monday went haywire in Maiduguri, Borno State, and fired indiscriminately on residents killing about 50 persons in reprisal for the attack on their patrol vehicle in the town.

“Initially, soldiers that came after the explosion harassed residents, whipping them… but later they went on a shooting spree,” said one Maiduguri resident, who spoke of about 50 dead.

Another resident, who did not give an estimate of the death toll, said, “soldiers came into the neighbourhood and started attacking people, shooting everybody in sight.”

Most of the victims, it was learnt, were civilians.

The soldiers were also said to have burnt at least 50 houses, shops and vehicles in the Gwange area of the town.

Some of the victims were reportedly burnt inside their houses beyond recognition.

An Improvised Explosive Device believed to have been planted by member of the violent Islamic sect, Boko Haram, hit the JTF vehicle in the early hours of Monday and killed the leader of the patrol team, an unnamed Lieutenant and injured other members of the patrol team.

The incident occurred along the popular Lagos Street in the Borno State capital town. Maiduguri is believed to be the base of Boko Haram

In retaliation, tens of soldiers were said to have stormed the street and shot indiscriminately at the residents and motorists on the busy road leading to the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital.

It was learnt on Tuesday that some of the dead victims were killed inside their houses while their corpses were set on fire by the angry soldiers.

About 50 vehicles parked along the street and in front of houses were also set ablaze.

Maiduguri witnessed a similar incident last Sunday when soldiers reportedly killed and indiscriminately set properties on fire to avenge the murder of two soldiers, one of them a Lt.Col.

Reports indicated that some members of Boko Haram died in the soldiers’ rage on Monday but no one could give a specific figure even as the area was cordoned off.

An eyewitness told journalists that more than 50 persons, including some suspected terrorists were killed, while hundreds of houses and shops belonging to residents of Gwange were razed down in the incident.

During a visit to the area at about 3pm, the Deputy Governor, Alhaji Zannah Umar Mustapha, said the government would address the situation when the governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, who was on a foreign trip to India, Pakistan and Turkey returned home.

The Deputy Governor appealed to Boko Haram members to lay down their arms for peace to prevail. He added that anytime the sect struck, the innocent always bore the brunt of retaliatory attacks.