Monday, December 22, 2014 7:33 pm
Boko Haram gunmen have stormed Geidam in the north eastern Nigerian state of Yobe, setting fire to several buildings and forcing residents to flee to the bush, witnesses said.
“They were chanting Allahu Akbar and firing shots and throwing bombs,” said resident Adamu Shehu.
“We spent a night in the bush but from afar we could see in the darkness flames and smoke coming from the town,” he said.
Geidam is said to be the hometown of Yobe’s governor Ibrahim Gaidam and witnesses said his home was also razed. But this could not be confirmed as Yobe government website says the 53 year old governor was born to a family of Muslim scholars in Bukarti town, Yunusari Local Government Area of the state.
The attackers rampaged late into the night and reportedly faced no resistance from the military.
While some people fled, others locked themselves in houses that were later torched and locals were going door-to-door to see if any lives were lost.
“Our town is a mess,” said resident Brema Umar, who reported that scores of people had fled overnight, many towards Yobe’s capital Damaturu, 180 kilometres (110 miles) to the north.
Details of attacks in the remote region often take several days to emerge due to the poor mobile phone network.
President Goodluck Jonathan, who is running for a second term, has on several occasions claimed that Boko Haram’s defeat was imminent, even as the violence has escalated.
The insurgency has forced more than 1.5 million people from their homes, straining resources in the embattled northeast, as communities struggle to care for those displaced.
Underscoring the severity of the crisis, 185 people, mostly women and children, were kidnapped on December 14 from the town of Gumsuri in Borno.
The attack recalled the kidnapping of more than 200 schoolgirls from a school in the town of Chibok in April, a mass abduction that Jonathan vowed would not happen again.
The president’s opponent in February polls, ex-military dictator Muhammadu Buhari from the mainly Muslim north, is seen by some as better placed to contain the Boko Haram threat, but experts say he may struggle to unseat an incumbent with the backing of a wealthy ruling party.
The Gaidam attack came a day before the bombing of the Dukku Bus Station in Gombe, killing no fewer than 20 people.