An­other girls’ school at­tacked

Anx­i­ety over se­rial at­tacks in Bauchi towns, vil­lages 7 more Borno school­girls es­cape from Boko Haram

Daily Trust - - FRONT PAGE - From Ahmed A. Mo­hammed (Bauchi) & Ibrahim Kabiru Sule (Abuja)

Uniden­ti­fied gun­men at­tacked the Govern­ment Girls Sec­ondary School in Yana, Bauchi State yes­ter­day, where they set fire to staff homes and seized the prin­ci­pal’s car.

The in­ci­dent came a week af­ter a sim­i­lar at­tack at a girls’ sec­ondary school in Chi­bok, Borno State, in which more than 100 fe­male stu­dents were ab­ducted by sus­pected Boko Haram mil­i­tants.

In the pre-dawn raid on Yana, the gun­men did not take any of the 195 fi­na­lyear stu­dents who were around in the school for their se­nior school-leav­ing cer­tifi­cate ex­am­i­na­tions.

But the at­tack­ers went on the ram­page in the school premises and else­where in Yana, which is the head­quar­ters of Shira Lo­cal Govern­ment Area.

The at­tack­ers de­stroyed a bank build­ing, part of the po­lice bar­racks, a con­fer­ence hall and 15 ve­hi­cles at the lo­cal govern­ment sec­re­tariat, and sev­eral cell­phone tow­ers.

A five-year-old boy was also burnt to death in the blaze at the po­lice bar­racks, res­i­dents and au­thor­i­ties said.

The in­ci­dent was the sec­ond in a week

in Yana, com­ing just six days af­ter the at­tack at Mother­cat con­struc­tion com­pany site where gun­men seized some dy­na­mite.

The Bauchi State Po­lice Com­mand con­firmed yes­ter­day’s at­tack.

“The gun­men stormed Yana around 2.30am on 20 April 2014 and set ablaze staff quar­ters, school bus of Govern­ment Girls Sec­ondary School (GSSS) Yana, eight-man block of po­lice rank and file quar­ters, GSM masts for MTN, Glo, and Eti­salat,” Po­lice spokesman DSP Haruna Mo­hammed told jour­nal­ists in Bauchi.

He added that the gun­men also at­tacked a branch of First Bank and de­stroyed the vault, and burnt a con­fer­ence hall of the lo­cal govern­ment sec­re­tariat as well as 15 ve­hi­cles in the sec­re­tariat.

“Apart from a 5-year-old (boy) who was burnt to death, no other ca­su­al­ties as all the stu­dents are in­tact while the pri­vate ve­hi­cle of the school prin­ci­pal was taken away by the hood­lums,” he said.

Mo­hammed said a com­bined team of se­cu­rity forces were on the trail of the at­tack­ers.

A re­li­able se­cu­rity source told Daily Trust: “The gang burnt part of LGA sec­re­tariat, part of Govern­ment Girls Sec­ondary School Yana, but all the 195 girls writ­ing WAEC in the school are in­tact. First Bank, Eti­salat and Glo masts were also de­stroyed.

“Soldiers from Bauchi and Ji­gawa am­bushed the gun­men on their way back, and some rocket-pro­pelled grenades, ex­plo­sive de­vices, mo­tor­cy­cles and a Hilux pick-up truck were re­cov­ered from them.”

A Daily Trust cor­re­spon­dent who vis­ited Yana town hours af­ter vi­o­lence re­ported see­ing ru­ins of the at­tacked struc­tures.

Res­i­dents said the gun­men, rid­ing mo­tor­bikes, stormed the vil­lage from dif­fer­ent di­rec­tions, shortly af­ter a down­pour, and be­gan fir­ing gun­shots and det­o­nat­ing ex­plo­sives.

“It was rain­ing late in the night, and shortly af­ter the rain had stopped, we be­gan to hear ex­plo­sions and gun­shots all over the town,” a man told the BBC Hausa ra­dio.

He said apart from the places at­tacked, “there was a boy for­got­ten at the po­lice bar­racks, who was burnt be­yond recog­ni­tion.”

Daily Trust learnt that the at­tack lasted for about two hours, as the gun­men op­er­ated un­chal­lenged.

They then left west­wards to­wards Gwaram town, which had also seen a deadly at­tack re­cently.

Fol­low­ing the de­struc­tion of some cell-phone tow­ers, res­i­dents of Yana said they are now left with only sig­nals of Air­tel.

Speak­ing to Daily Trust, a com­mu­nity leader ap­pealed to the govern­ment to pro­vide ad­e­quate se­cu­rity to schools and ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties.

He said only God saved the stu­dents in GGSS Yana, “other­wise it would have been a dif­fer­ent story by now.”

Se­rial at­tacks

The vi­o­lence in Yana is the lat­est in the se­ries of at­tacks by un­known gun­men in the north­cen­tral part of Bauchi State.

At least 10 at­tacks were re­ported since Fe­bru­ary in dif­fer­ent towns and vil­lages.

On April 16, a team of se­cu­rity forces foiled an at­tack by some un­known gun­men on Misau, ac­cord­ing the po­lice.

A day ear­lier, gun­men snatched two United Na­tions ve­hi­cles and an­other govern­ment ve­hi­cle in Soro, Gan­juwa Lo­cal Govern­ment Area.

On April 16, hood­lums am­bushed cus­toms of­fi­cers be­tween Sade and Lan­zai vil­lages in Darazo LGA, killing two of­fi­cers.

On March 29, gun­men kid­napped busi­ness­man and politi­cian Al­haji Manu Soro.

On March 4, a mem­ber of the Bauchi State House of As­sem­bly, Yusuf Nuhu, was ab­ducted in his res­i­dence in Zalau vil­lage in Toro LGA. Two days ear­lier, gun­men seized three polio work­ers in Darazo.

On Fe­bru­ary 18, the po­lice foiled an as­sas­si­na­tion at­tempt on PDP chair­man of Shira LGA. A day ear­lier, gun­men kid­napped a for­mer House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives mem­ber, Al­haji Sama’ila Ahmed Ilalim, in Darazo.

The se­rial at­tacks have sparked fears in the com­mu­ni­ties that the gun­men could be Boko Haram fighters, who re­ports said had set up camps in neigh­bour­ing forests that stretch into Ji­gawa State.

People in Darazo area were said to have no­ticed the sud­den ap­pear­ance of size­able num­bers of armed men in the forests. They were said to have es­tab­lished a tem­po­rary camp and of­ten en­gaged in armed drills.

The po­lice had said last month that they were aware of the re­ports on pres­ence of strange gun­men and were do­ing some­thing to con­tain the sit­u­a­tion.

PHOTO Ahmed Mo­hammed

Ve­hi­cles burnt by gun­men at Shira Lo­cal Govern­ment Coun­cil Sec­re­tariat in Yana, yes­ter­day.

PHOTO Ahmed Mo­hammed

Staff quar­ters of Govern­ment Girls Sec­ondary School Yana, razed by gun­men yes­ter­day.

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