Massacre in Yobe: 60 killed as gunmen attack market
•Cattle not spared
…Three brothers shot dead in Borno
From TIMOTHY OLA, Maiduguri
Friday May 04, 2012
• Even cattle were not spared in the massacre in Potiskum, Yobe State, Wednesday
Potiskum, a commercial town in Yobe State, witnessed the bloodiest attack Wednesday when gunmen in a reprisal, stormed a popular cattle market and shot dead about 60 people. Scores of buyers and traders were also wounded. Boko Haram was yet to take responsibility for the attack even though the police said, “everybody knows the modus operandi of the Islamist sect.”
There was pandemonium, in Borno State yesterday where three brothers were shot dead by soldiers. In the Potiskum incident, sources said business had started in the market in the early hours of the day without the slightest premonition of the tragedy ahead. By midday, some gunmen sneaked into the market and made fruitless attempts to shoot at the traders who are said to have a great deal of cash on them.
“The market usually picks up between 11am and noon and it was around this time that some gunmen entered the market but people quickly stopped them. In fact, one of them was caught and set ablaze while the rest fled.“We thought everything was over until about 6.30pm when the gunmen returned in a deadly way,” an eyewitness in Potiskum, who would not want his name in print for security reason, told Daily Sun on phone.
It was gathered that the gunmen returned to the market in a bloodiest manner to avenge the killing of their colleague. They were said to have been throwing improvised explosives into the market while they equally shoot those who attempted to flee. Officials of the Cattle Market Association in the Potiskum Market while briefing Gov Ibrahim Gaidam on the incident yesterday said that about 60 cattle traders, marketers and other persons were killed by the gunmen though the police maintained 34 people were killed. One of the rescue teams also confirmed that about 60 bodies were recovered from the scene of the attack.
Sources at the Potiskum General Hospital said that about 15 injured persons were brought there on Wednesday night while some also were admitted in some private hospitals in the town. “The corpses were brought here and they are about 30”, one of the hospital staff disclosed. The state Commissioner of Police, Samuel Onitiri, confirmed the incident, but was not specific about the number of casuality.
“There were multiple attacks and bomb blasts by suspected gunmen on the Potiskum Cattle Market on Wednesday evening, killing many traders. An unconfirmed number of traders were also injured in the attacks, after they were attacked by these robbers, who came to the market to rob them”, he said. A witness, Mamman Yusuf, said the gunfire lasted for almost an hour. According to him, “they threw explosives and shot indiscriminately, setting fire to the market, killing lots of livestock and wounding many people, mostly cattle dealers.”
He said that the death toll may rise because families were also burying bodies of relatives without bringing them to hospital.
Police Commissioner Onitiri said the market had already been cordoned off by the Joint Task Force (JTF).
As at Press time yesterday, the otherwise burstling city of Potiskum reportedly wore a sickening look as residents grieved over the tragedy said to be the bloodiest in the history of the city.
One resident said firefighters were at the scene on Thursday morning, searching for water wells out of fear that some residents might have fallen in and drowned while trying to flee. Residents crowded a local hospital to determine if their relatives were among the dead.“The whole market was burnt down,” a resident said. “Roasted remains of cattle litter the whole place. The ground had been scorched.
Meanwhile, there was pandemonium at Biu, south of Maiduguri in Borno State yesterday following alleged killing of three brothers by soldiers. Some youths were said to have alleged that the three men arrested by soldiers were killed on the suspicion that they were Boko Haram members, but Daily Sun could not get official confirmation on the matter from the military in the area as at Press time.