Michael Olugbode in Maiduguri
The Nigerian military yesterday broke its silence on the number of casualties from the Rann accidental air bombing by the air force, stating that 112 persons died in the incident while 97 others were injured.
The military equally revealed that 26 foreigners were caught who had links with Boko Haram in the last one month.
Addressing a press conference in Maiduguri, the head of the counter-insurgency operations in the North-east (Operation Lafiya Dole), Major General Lucky Irabor, said of the foreigners caught, 17 were Chadians and nine Nigeriens.
Added to the 26 foreigners arrested during operations, was a Malian simply identified as Ayuba, arrested in Dikwa who claimed he only speaks French, Irabor said.
Another major arrest made in Shehuri area of Maiduguri, according to Irabor, was a suspected Boko Haram member who specialises in sneaking suicide bombers into Maiduguri.
Irabor disclosed that seven cattle rustlers were arrested in Monguno, and 34 cows were recovered from them.
He said 3,332 suspected Boko Haram members who were arrested in January during operations against the insurgents are currently being screened to ascertain if they are indeed members of the group.
He equally revealed that five Boko Haram members willingly surrendered to the group.
Among the five is one 31-year-old Mohammed Abubakar, who has had his leg and arm amputated by the insurgents for trying to desert.
Abubakar in a brief interview with journalists, revealed how his right arm and left limb got amputated: “I told my friend Hassan Danguduma we have to flee and surrender because our activities are unIslamic, he pretended as if he supported the idea, but leaked the secret to our leader. So they amputated my left leg and right hand from the wrist. But I managed to escape.”
He added: “I have been in the group for two years, they abducted me from Wulgo Hausari village, Gamboru Ngala Local Government Area. For fear of being killed, I joined the group. I’m loyal to the Mamman Nur-led faction.”
On the Rann misfire, Irabor said after the sad incident of Rann air strike accident, coordinated emergency response was established for rescue and treatment of victims, surgical centre was equally set up.
He equally revealed that a board of inquiry was established by the Theatre Command to investigate the incident which proved it was a mistake and that 112 persons died and 97 others were wounded in the incident.
On other successes recorded in the last one month, Irabor said troops conducted several operation and recovered several arms, ammunition in Sambisa Forest.
He said five insurgents were killed around Sambisa Forest, adding that in Dikwa, nine militants were also killed.
He said: “In Monguno, troops trailed and had an encounter with insurgents, one militant was killed. Troops conducted operations along Maiduguri-Dikwa road, killed two insurgents. In Gulumba-Gana road, with the support of Camerounian troops, four terrorists were killed.
“In Konduga-Yale area, hundreds of hostages were rescued. Also in Gulumba-Gana troops recovered arms. Terrorists after being dislodged from Sambisa Forest, relocated to Dusla area in Damboa local government, among them nine were killed.”
He, however, lamented that the recent highway attacks might not be unconnected with the displacement of the insurgents from their Sambisa forest stronghold, insisting that the troops are on their trail and would soon neutralise them all.