At least 20 persons, mostly travellers, who were stranded outside the military-controlled entrance gate of Maiduguri were on Sunday night killed by suspected Boko Haram insurgents.
The governor of Borno State, Babagana Zulum, confirmed the gruesome massacre of the travelers on Monday when he visited the site of the attack in Auno, a village 24km away from Maiduguri city centre.
The insurgents also reportedly abducted many travellers mostly women after setting vehicles ablaze.
Recently, soldiers of the Nigerian military in Borno State erected a gate that they lock at the curfew time, which is 6 pm.
Often, long distant travellers are forced to spend the night outside the barricade till 6.a.m. the next day, when the gates are opened.
The military mounted gates, designed to check the influx of Boko Haram insurgents at night, have been widely criticised by members of the public who worried that making travellers sleep in the bush could expose them to serious danger.
On Sunday, many travellers had to pass the night in Auno, after the soldiers locked the highway.
Witnesses in Auno said the attackers crept out in large numbers around 10 p.m.and opened fire on them while they were sleeping inside the vehicles.
“The gunmen killed more than a dozen and injured others,” a survivor said.
“They also burnt 18 buses and cars and took away other travellers.”
Mr Zulum, who visited the scene early Monday morning, met some of the vehicles still burning.
“Some of the vehicles had charred corpses of travellers, including children,” said a government official who does not want to be named.
“We were told more than 20 persons were killed.”
Mr Zulum, who was accompanied by the Garrison Commander 7 Div Nigerian Army, sympathised with the victims and assured them of his and President Buhari’s administration’s “commitment towards ending the war.”
“I saw some three bodies that were burnt on the ground. I counted about 21 vehicles that have been burnt,” a commercial driver, Mallam Yunusa, who witnessed the incident, said.
The military is currently addressing the media on the development.
More details later…