TRACKING____Thousands of residents have fled to nearby Yunusari Local Government and Damataru as fighters of the Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP), a Boko Haram faction, besiege Geidam town in Yobe State.
Over 2,000 residents including children and aged trekked long distances to safety after Boko Haram consolidated their control of the town.
The insurgents, who have taken position within residential parts of the town, have being engaging the military in the town in a heavy gun battle for more than 48 hours.
Residents told Daily Trust that the insurgents were boasting to the locals that they will dislodge a military base located in the town. Troops have, however, put a strong residence even as they were being restrained by fear of recording too many collateral damages.
Chairman of the local government, Ali Kolo Geidam, stated that thousands of his people have fled the town and its environs.
“I don’t know who is presently in control because I couldn’t access the town for the past two days, but based on the information I received the insurgents overran the military.
“I visited some of the injured victims here in Damaturu Specialist Hospital and I sympathised with their condition,” he said.
He said the insurgents have slaughtered two people on Sunday morning including a teacher in Kawuri Primary School, Mallam Baba Tazira in addition to those that were injured with many others displaced.
The chairman refused military claim that they inflicted heavy casualties on the terrorists adding that they should have liaised with locals to get adequate information.
Another survivor who escaped to a neighboring village on Sunday, Rawana Usman, said he had no intention of leaving his house but later changed his mind when he learnt that the assailant slaughtered two Christians working with an NGO from his neighbourhood.
“They were going round houses targeting Christians, NGO workers and those that are educated in the western schools. When I heard of the selective killings, I couldn’t resist, I left abruptly.
“I can say that there were soldiers engaging them. They have been doing their best to push out the terrorists, but I can tell you that these boys were moving normal in the town up to the time I left,” he said.
Another source, Abba Nura revealed that about 11 people of the same family were killed as a result of an explosive device that struck their homes at Saminaka Area, close to the military camp in Geidam during the encounter.
Nura said nobody can authoritatively tell if it was the military or Boko Haram who released the explosive.
“I heard the sound, but I can’t tell where it came from, whether it is from the military airstrike or the side of the insurgents because they engaged in a serious gun battle.
“Upon entering their house after the shooting had stopped, we found 11 of them dead as a result of the injuries they sustained with no first aid support.”
He said the funeral procession could not be performed in Geidam due to the situation.
“We had to convey their corpses to neighbouring communities of Mozagun and Damaturu the state capital for the burial. We are just confused. The attack is so tragic; only God can save us.”
A source who pleaded for anonymity said another group of the attackers were seen thronging from Digeltura/Subdu area of Geidam Local Government.
According to him, security forces also fled for their lives amidst the insinuation that the insurgents were members of the Chadian rebel group.
While the siege was on, Yobe Governor, Mai Mala Buni was in Abuja from where he issued a statement assuring that efforts were being intensified to curb the incessant attacks.
Buni who has been in charge of APC since Adams Oshiomhole was sacked by a court, has devoted most of his time to the ruling party, leaving the running of his state to his deputy.
TRACKNEWS reports that Boko Haram insurgents and the military exchanged firepower on Friday in Geidam.
After airstrikes by the military, the insurgents beat retreat but they returned hours later and have been wreaking havoc on the town since then.
About 11 persons of the same family were reportedly killed as a result of an explosive that struck their home at Saminaka Area close to military camp in Geidam.
The victims were killed when a projectile hit two adjoining homes in the Samunaka neighbourhood of the town during the fighting between troops and the militants, residents said.
The militants destroyed telecom masts in the town, save a few from a mobile carrier, making communications limited.
“The insurgents looted provision stores before setting them on fire,” said resident Ari Sanda, adding the fighters seized a military armoured vehicle and destroyed three trucks.
Following the invasion on Friday, a fighter jet deployed and engaged Boko Haram who hid among the civilian population to evade aerial attack, the sources said.
On Saturday the jihadists came out of hiding and were joined by more of their comrades who arrived in the town in trucks, the residents said.
Despite assurances they would not harm civilians, residents remained indoors while some fled.
Troops have blocked the road out of town, preventing panicked residents from leaving, prompting some to trek into the bush while others took boats to the other side the river to escape, said residents.