Two policemen and five gunmen believed to be members of Boko Haram were killed during a midnight shootout between the insurgents and security officials in Gashua town of Yobe State, residents and security sources said on Thursday.

Similarly in Borno State, another set of two policemen were reportedly killed in Bama town, 75 kilometres away from Maiduguri, the state capital, when some armed men attempted to kill the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) of a police station on Thursday afternoon.

Spokesman of the peacekeeping military Joint Task Force (JTF), Eli Lazarus, a Lieutenant, said in a statement that most of the Boko Haram gunmen in the Gashua incident fled in the heat of the shooting, abandoning their vehicles and cache of arms.

Fati Umar, a female school teacher and resident of Gashua, sent a text message out at about 1.00 a.m. in the heat of the attack, saying, “Please do pray for us! We are in danger.”

Umar later confirmed on the telephone to journalists that dozens of the Boko Haram gunmen invaded their Mobile Base area of Gashua at about midnight shooting and chanting Islamic slogan, ‘Allahu Akbar’.

“From the way they were moving, it was like they were going from house to house. They shot several gunshots around our house but the gate was firmly locked.

“It was this morning we heard they attacked police station and the prison,” she said.

The JTF spokesman, Lazarus, said in his statement that the attack started at midnight.

The statement reads: “At about 12 midnight Thursday, April 25, 2013, unknown gunmen suspected to be Boko Haram terrorists attacked JTF location in Gashua town, the Police Area Command and Gashua Divisional Police Station.

“Men of the JTF were able to repel and contain the attack on its location. Reinforcement was however dispatched swiftly and was able to engage the terrorists.

“Two police officers were killed in the attack while five of the suspected terrorists lost their lives during the encounter.

“Some of the suspected terrorists escaped in two vehicles with injuries while others are believed to still be in the town.

“The fleeing terrorists took away one police Hilux vehicle fitted with siren at the top, one other vehicle, police uniforms and other items from the Police stations.

“Items recovered include one Toyota Corolla car, one Peugeot 406 saloon car, one Isuzu pick-up van, one AK 47 rifle, one police anti-riot gun, one locally made pistol, one rocket propelled grenade (RPG) bomb, one generating set and large quantity of ammunition.

“The public is enjoined to be mindful of the fact that the terrorists are still around and are bent on wrecking havoc and instilling fear in law abiding citizens in order to make life unbearable for them.

“Let no one be in doubt, however, that JTF would continue to respond appropriately to such attacks.

“The Task Force urges all law abiding citizens to remain calm, as it is currently on top of the situation.

“A cordon and search operation is currently on going in Gashua town,” Lazarus added.

On the Borno incident, police sources and residents of Bama said several houses around the police divisional headquarters were torched in the ensuing shootout between the gunmen and security forces.

Hundreds of residents of Kasubula area of Bama, where the incident took place, fled their homes and are currently taking refuge in the surrounding bushes, reports said.

A civil servant in Maiduguri, whose family live in Bama, said he received distress call from his wife that their house had been torched.

“My wife just called to tell me that they were assisted to escape by jumping the fence when my house was set on fire, and presently she and my two daughters are with others in the bush,” said the traumatised civil servant, Muhammed Ali.

Also on Thursday, the House of Representatives called on the Federal Government to build perimeter fence across Nigeria’s borders with neighbouring countries to prevent illegal immigrants from entering the country.The House, in a resolution to this effect, said the fencing of the nation’s borderline with its neighbors had become imperative in view of the increasing security challenges facing the country.

The resolution followed a motion sponsored by Hassan Saleh in which the lawmaker drew the attention of the House to the porous nature of Nigerian borders with other countries.

In an effort to ensure success of the project, the House mandated its Committee on Interior to liaise with the Ministry of Interior and the Nigeria Immigration Service to explore the possibility of constructing the fence to properly demarcate the borders and check indiscriminate influx of illegal immigrants into the country. It was proposed that the fence should be equipped with sensors and cameras to track illegal migrants and help the Nigeria Immigration Service have a proper statistics of persons going in and out of the country.

Meanwhile, Zamfara State Governor, Abdulaziz Yari, has attributed the absence of the Boko Haram sect in his state to the combined efforts of traditional rulers and good governance.Speaking to State House correspondents after a meeting with President Goodluck Jonathan, Yari said Zamfara has always distinguished itself as a peaceful state because even when there were riots in parts of the North when Sharia law was introduced, there was no riot in the whole of Zamfara State.The Governor had led a delegation of traditional rulers, former Governors, members of the National Assembly and other prominent indigenes of the state to visit Jonathan in his office on Thursday.

Another report from Taraba State on Thursday said five students were killed at Mararaba village while writing the on-going West African Examination Council (WASC).

The tragedy occurred on Wednesday evening when the building in which the victims were writing their exams collapsed on them.

Mararaba, in the Donga Local Government Area of Taraba State, is the hometown of Senate Committee Chairman on Agriculture, Emmanuel Bwacha.

According to an eyewitness who spoke in a telephone interview, a heavy down pour which resulted into windstorm pulled the roof of the storey building which eventually led to its collapse.

The building which belongs to a private individual in the locality was said to have been converted to a private school.

It was further gathered that about 100 students were writing the examination at the time of the incident.

Thirty of them were said to have sustained injuries.

The remains of the deceased students were deposited at a mortuary close to the village while other affected students were taken to nearby hospitals for treatment.

Efforts to speak to the state Commissioner for Education, Yakubu Agbaizo, did not yield result up to press time on Thursday.Image

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