Two sources, including a high-level security official, have disclosed to SaharaReporters that heavily armed insurgents belonging to the extreme Islamist sect, Boko Haram, today descended on Gwoza, a town in Borno State, killing at least 100 residents before seizing the town. Our sources said the attack began early at dawn, with Boko Haram easily taking over the town by the late morning (Nigerian time).
“The soldiers guarding us just went away as the militants advanced against our town,” a resident of the besieged town said in Kanuri. He added that the Islamist militants killed residents freely, adding that the casualties included the elderly, women, and children.
“If this continues, then all of us will soon be without a place to call home,” said the resident of Gwoza, adding that he and most residents who escaped the militants’ attack were now refugees.
Our security source corroborated the account, stating that the soldiers retreated because the insurgents came with superior firepower.
The insurgents’ capture of Gwoza represents the second time that Boko Haram would seize a major town from Nigerian troops. Several weeks ago, Boko Haram massacred many residents of the town of Damboa and dislodged Nigerian troops stationed to secure the town. Two months ago, Boko Haram militants had killed Emir of Gwoza on his way to attend the burial of the Emir of Gombe.
They hoisted their flag at different locations in the town in order to proclaim their control.
The Nigerian army mobilized to retake Damboa, but Boko Haram fighters were able to repel several offensives by the troops.
Our security source added that the Nigerian military lagged behind in hardware to take on the increasingly sophisticated weaponry used by Boko Haram. “For many years, our military did not modernize its weapons,” said the source, a senior military officer. “The government is trying now to bring in more weapons, but things are running a little late,” he added.
The source added that the ill preparedness of Nigerian troops had created low morale among soldiers deployed to fight Boko Haram insurgents.