By Duku Joel, Damaturu
A group of armed robbers came with a Volkswagen Golf car, opened fire and started extorting money from us. Our people resisted and caught one of them … the robbers escaped and came back around 6:00pm with explosive materials, burnt down all the buildings, cars and structures in the cattle market and shot at everyone.
Some unknown gunmen, in commando style, stormed the market late Wednesday, shooting indiscriminately and throwing explosives.
The traders said they lost 60 people. The police said 34 died. Potiskum is the major commercial city in Yobe State. Damaturu is the state capital.
The livestock market, West Africa’s largest, was filled to the brim on Wednesday.
It is located between two security check points manned by the military and the police – less than one kilometre of each other.
It was gathered that there was an early morning attack at about 11.00 am when a suspected armed robber was allegedly killed by some traders.
Ardo Abdullahi, one of the traders relived the horror. He said: “While we were in the market, a group of armed robbers came in a Volkswagen Golf car, opened fire and started extorting money from us (traders). Our people resisted and caught one of them. The suspect was beaten and burnt to death by angry traders.
“I suspect that the remaining robbers escaped and came back around 6:00pm with explosive materials, burnt down all the buildings, cars and structures in the cattle market and shot at random on everyone in the market.”
The Secretary of the Cattle Traders Union, Alhaji Maigari Lamido, put the death toll at 60 when Yobe State Governor Ibrahim Gaidam visited the market to sympathise with the traders.
But Police Commissioner Moses Onariti said 34 people were killed; 29 hospitalised.
He said no arrest was made relating to the attack.
The Secretary of Nigerian Red Cross in the state, Zabu Buba, said his men took about 30 people to the hospital.
There were indications that the death toll may have exceeded the official figure as some of the dead were already being identified and buried by their relatives. Such bodies were neither taken to the hospital nor were they recorded.
Lamido told the governor that 40 cows and 17 vehicles were burnt down by the assailants in the gun raid.
The governor also visited the Potiskum General Hospital where he directed that a special committee be set up to ascertain the extent of damage, adding that the government would take over the payment of hospital bills of the victims. He said families of the victims will be assisted based on the recommendation of the committee.
Potiskum, a usually boisterous town was thrown into mourning, following the attack.
A resident, Adamu Sambo, said all the entry and exit points in the town were blocked by security operatives and people sent home early before the 10.pm curfew dateline.
Crowds of sympathisers trooped to the hospital in search of their loved ones.
The Emir of Fika and Chairman of the Yobe State Council of Chiefs, Dr. Muhammadu Abali Ibn Muhammadu Idrissa, was at the hospital to sympathise with the relations of the victims. The royal father was deeply moved when he saw the bodies in the mortuary. He said he was sad over the “unfortunate” incident.
The Emir of Potiskum, Alhaji Umaru Bubaram Ibn Wuriwa Bauya, also visited the market and condemned the attack.
Culled from The Nation