At least 57 policemen fled while two were killed when suspected Boko Haram insurgents ambushed their convoy in the Damboa area of Borno state, on Tuesday.
An officer who witnessed the attack said his colleagues who took cover were yet to be found.
He said men from men of the State Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) deployed to rescue the officers have not been able to rescue all of them.
The officer said the convoy was conveying a corpse of a policewoman to Adamawa state when the attackers struck.
“Some private and commercial vehicles which were heading to Biu, Adamawa, Hawul and Gwoza when the incident happened,” he said.
“People abandoned the vehicles and took to their heels.
“The bus conveying our female colleague for burial was riddled with bullets, because it was in front.
“So far, only two people died but we are yet to ascertain whether others were killed or got trapped. SARS was deployed and the truck conveying the officers has been recovered.”
But Damian Chukwu, commissioner of police in the state, said only one policeman was killed in the incident.
He said six others sustained injuries during an exchange of gunfire with the suspects.
Chukwu said the incident occurred around 2:30pm.
“Some of our policemen who were heading to Adamawa for the burial of one of our own female officer police were attacked. Unfortunately, we lost an officer,” he said.
“Fifty-seven officers who ran into the bush for their safety are safe and right here with us in the command. They will continue with their trip to Askira Uba tomorrow.”
Hassan Usman, a Borno resident, said Zana Modu, district head of Chibok, and Umar Shikarfi, vice-chairman of the Chibok local government, sustained injuries in the attack.
Usman said it was not clear if the insurgents took hostages.
“The attack happened along Maiduguri-Damboa road. The passengers come with escorts and the insurgents attacked the convoy and so many people were injured,” he said.
“They opened fire, they were sporadically shooting at the convoy, a lot of varying degrees of injuries. “Our district head, Zana Modu of Chibok was shot in his hand, then the vice-chairman Umar Shikarfi of Chibok local government was shot in the leg.
“They said they have taken vehicles to the bush, there is an ambulance coming from Maiduguri for a burial, both the ambulance and the corpse, they have taken.
“Some other vehicles are still missing, we don’t know if it is with them, we cannot confirm that one. They damaged a lot of cars.”
Borno has recorded frequent attacks in recent times, especially after some military commanders were redeployed.
More than 10 attacks have happened in the state in the last one month.
On June 13, insurgents ambushed soldiers on Damboa-Maiduguri road, dispossessing them of two Hilux vehicles.
Later that day, Boko Haram fighters invaded Maiduguri through Alidawari and Jidari Polo areas at a time Tukur Burutai, chief of army staff, was at his official residence in Maimalari Barracks.
As if that was not enough, three female bombers donated improvised explosive devices (IEDs) at Goni Kachalari and Muna areas of the ancient town, killing 13 people, while 24 others were injured.
Three days after, the insurgents attacked Gimsuri village along Damboa to Chibok road, killing two civilians and burning four houses.
On June 18, Boko Haram militants killed three soldiers on patrol at Wajiroko village along Damboa to Biu road.
On June 19, five female bombers struck at Kofa community in Dalori area of Maiduguri. 12 persons were killed in that tragic incident.
The Cable learnt that the army authorities have summoned top officers in the state to Abuja over the resurgence in the activities of the sect.