- Â Army loses nine personnel in rescue operation
Michael Olugbode in Maiduguri
The 10 workers contracted by Integrated Data Services Limited (IDSL), a subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), and security escorts who were abducted by Boko Haram during an oil exploration mission at the Lake Chad Basin on Tuesday have been rescued.
According to sources, the military, along with members of the Civilian JTJ, immediately swung into action on Tuesday upon hearing of their abduction.
The operation, they said, was successful as several insurgents were killed and four members of the Civilian JTF, one IDSL official and those of the Department of Geology, University of Maiduguri, were rescued from the insurgents.
The insurgents had laid ambush around Jilli and Bornoyesu villages between Magumeri and Gubio Local Government Area of Borno State on Tuesday, during which an oil research team to the Lake Chad Basin was attacked and several persons were reported missing.
But the military after the news of the abduction, swung into action, deploying troops of 5 Brigade in Gubio into action.
The team, which worked in conjunction with the Civilian JTF, pursued the insurgents, killing scores of them and inflicting injuries on many others that fled.
It was learnt that the rescue team was led by the Brigade Commander, Brigadier Gen. Aminu Chinide and leader of the Civilian JTF in Gubio, Bulama Bukar Maradona.
They were given support by the Borno State Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Hon. Usman Zanna and the Caretaker Chairman of Gubio LGA, Hon. Zanna Modu.
The rescue team was also able to recover several arms and ammunition and four vehicles belonging to the victims, which were snatched by the insurgents.
Confirming the success of the rescue operation Wednesday, Modu in a phone call expressed happiness that almost all the insurgents who partook in the attack were neutralised by the troops.
The chairman said although details of the number of casualties on the side of the terrorists was high, he would not want to preempt any statement which may be issued by the military, insisting that quite a number of the victims were rescued during the joint operation on Tuesday night.
He commended the Commissioner for Local Government for giving him the directive that was acted upon, which led to the immediate success recorded by the troops and Civilian JTF.
He said: â€œI am happy to inform you that when the Commissioner for Local Government Affairs gave me a directive yesterday (Tuesday), immediately after the incident, we swung into action by supporting our gallant troops and members of the Civilian JTF who jointly mobilised and pursued these terrorists.
â€œAlthough the incident took place in Bornoyesu village of Magumeri Local Government Area, following an intelligence report and gathering, the joint security operatives, with support from Gubio council area and members of the public, were able to apprehend, kill and overwhelm the fleeing insurgents around Jilli village.
â€œAlready, the recovered vehicles, arms and ammunition, including some of the rescued victims have been brought into one of the security formations under 5 Brigade, even the driver of one of the recovered vehicles has since returned to Maiduguri this morning (Wednesday) to reunite with his loved ones, and we are expecting the safe return of more victims who escaped from the incident.â€
A statement by the army later Wednesday said that it had rescued all 10 NNPC contractors kidnapped by suspected Boko Haram terrorists in Borno on Tuesday.
But the effort came with a huge price for the Nigerian military, as nine soldiers and a civilian died in the confrontation with the abductors.
The Director Army Public Relations, Brig.-Gen. Sani Usman, who made this known in a statement, also said that the bodies of an officer, eight soldiers and a civilian who died in the incident had been recovered.
Usman said the bodies were evacuated to 7 Division Medical Services and Hospital.
Usman said: â€œOn receipt of the information on the ambush, the Brigade mobilised and sent reinforcement, a search and rescue party that included the Armed Forces Special Forces and guides that worked and pursued the terrorists throughout the night.
â€œSo far, they have rescued all the NNPC contractors and recovered the corpses of the officer, eight soldiers and a civilian who have been evacuated to 7 Division Medical Services and Hospital.
â€œThe team recovered four vehicles, one of which included a gun truck mounted with an anti-aircraft gun, two white Hilux vans taken away from NNPC contractors and one blue Hilux van belonging to Civilian JTF.
â€œThe team also recovered large quantities of arms and ammunition, several spare tyres, many jerry cans containing petroleum, oil and lubricant, assorted drugs, improvised explosive device-making materials, reflective jackets and a Motorola handheld radio, among others.
â€œThe team also neutralised many of the terrorists.â€