Leave the village or die

After killing eight people – including a soldier and vigilantes – and wounding many others, insurgents told residents of Ajiri to “leave the village or die”.

“And don’t come back,” the attackers, thought to be members of the Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP), said.

In the first attack, insurgents stormed the village − in the Mafa Local Government Area of Borno State – at about 1am on Sunday, May 2. They raided the military base and set fire to houses.

The town was attacked a second time on Monday.

A resident, who asked to remain anonymous, said 10 civilians were killed in the second attack.

Military sources confirmed that five soldiers and 12 vigilantes were also killed.

During the first attack, Fanta Abba Goni, a resident of Ajiri, fled from the village and took refuge in Muna Camp in Jere Local Government Area.

She said the insurgents had ordered the villagers to flee.

“They killed one person in front of us and then told us we had the option of leaving the village quickly or dying. We chose to leave. We left in numbers without preparation. There were maybe only about four residents left in the village after we were gone.

“Some went to straight to Maiduguri, other residents spent the night in Mafa central.”

Goni said she had always loved the village because she had a farm there and she was able to feed her family.

“But things have changed. Now I feel as if I am an internally displaced person. I have three children. We want to stay in the village but the attackers won’t allow us. They killed eight people and warned us not to spend the night in the village. And then told us not to come back because we would be killed,” she said.

Goni said there were no civilians left in the village, only soldiers.

Falta Akura, a resident of the village, said that after the first attack, she and other residents left Ajiri in a hurry. They did not have time to think or prepare. They just fled.

The battle was still raging when they left, Akura said. They spent the night in Mafa, which is the headquarters of the local government area.

“When it was light, we left for Maiduguri.”

Bashir Alhaji Bukar, a father of four, said the insurgents were heavily armed with guns and knives. They arrived in amoured cars and on motorcycles. The first attack lasted for about three hours. At sunrise the insurgents had forced the remaining residents to leave the village, Bukar said..

After the first attack, Mustapha Kadafru, Borno State acting governor, visited the area to sympathise with residents of the first attack. He had no idea the insurgents would attack the village again later on Monday.

Residents pleaded with the state and federal governments to intensify their efforts in the fight against the insurgents before the start of the rainy season.

“We will not be able to farm if our village is under the control of ISWAP members,” a resident said.

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