More than 150 people, including 38 police, died in a Boko Haram raid on the northeast Nigerian city of Damaturu this week, police, a rescue official and a health worker told AFP on Wednesday.
A senior rescue official and a medical source at the city’s Sani Abacha Specialist Hospital said 115 bodies were brought to the morgue after Monday’s attack, although it was not clear whether they were insurgents or civilians.
All 115 were in civilian clothing, but it was not certain whether they were all non-combatants, the sources said. Among the dead were two medical doctors, a staff member of the federal polytechnic in the Yobe state capital, and his two children.
Six soldiers were also killed, the sources added. Emmanuel Ojukwu, spokesman for Nigeria’s federal police, said: “Out of the police, we have 38 deaths.”
Most of the police killed were at the mobile police base in the Gujba Road area of the city, Ojukwu said, confirming eye-witness testimony from residents that the facility was attacked.
One local man, Umar Sada, said at the time that the gunmen, who began their attack at about 4:45 am (0345 GMT) on Monday, burnt down the police barracks.
The heavy loss of life came after an increase in mass casualty attacks blamed on the militants, who have been fighting since 2009 to establish a hardline Islamic state in northeast Nigeria.
Also on Monday, two female suicide bombers blew themselves up at a market in the Borno state capital, Maidiguri — less than a week after two other women killed more than 45 at the same location.
Last Friday, two suicide bombers and gunmen killed at least 120 worshippers at the central mosque in the northern city of Kano, which has been repeatedly hit by Boko Haram attacks in the past.
Neither the military nor the state government in Yobe said they were in a position to comment on the casualty figures when contacted by AFP.
But civilian vigilantes operating in Damaturu claimed on Monday that more than 40 Boko Haram gunmen had been killed in the fighting.
The medical source said it was “likely” that most of the 115 were insurgents.
He added: “Rescue teams are still looking in the bush around the city for more bodies. It’s believed that people might have died from gunshot wounds while trying to flee.”
The senior rescue official said 78 people were injured. Of those 53 were treated and discharged.