- As Air Force, Army inflict heavy casualties on terrorists
Michael Olugbode in Maiduguri, Paul Obi in Abuja and Segun Awofadeji in Bauchi
Nigerian troops have recorded a milestone in the ongoing war against Boko Haram, with the killing of one of the wives of a factional leader of the terrorist group, Mamman Nur in an attack on their enclave.
Earlier report had stated that Mamman Nur, next in order of notoriety to feared leader, Abubakar Shekau, was fatally injured in the ongoing onslaught on the enclaves of the insurgents around Lake Chad.
Also, as a result of the heavy military bombardment, many insurgents have been killed even as many have fled across the Nigerian border to Niger, to take advantage of the francophone country’s amnesty arrangement.
In a statement on Friday night, the military said: “Troops of operation Lafiya Dole have continued the onslaught on Boko Haram terrorists’ enclaves in the Lake Chad region where a factional leader of the group Mamman Nur has suffered grave injury, while one of his wives has been killed in the battle.”
The statement signed by Col. Onyema Nwachukwu, Deputy Director Public Relations, Theatre Command Operation Lafiya Dole also disclosed that: “More also, about 250 foot soldiers from the Albarnawy camp have surrendered to Nigerien authorities due to the devastating artillery and aerial bombardments by Operation Lafiya Dole troops.”
Nwachukwu said: “Many of the insurgents who fled the onslaught are now taking advantage of the ‘Amnesty’ offered by the Nigerien government by surrendering to Nigerien Forces.
He said: “Among the insurgents fleeing from the ongoing offensive are senior and junior commanders in the Albarnawy faction who are now attempting to melt into other communities in and around Kano, Geidam and Gashua axis unnoticed.
“One of such fleeing commanders is Bana Bafui. Members of the general public, particularly in Kano, Geidam, Gashua, Hadeja and the northern part of Jigawa are therefore enjoined to be vigilant and watch out for strange faces suddenly appearing in their communities and promptly report same to security agencies.”
The military spokesman added that: “Additionally, about 700 insurgents have also surrendered to troops in the general area of Monguno following troops’ clearance operations.”
He promised that: “The ongoing onslaught will be tenaciously sustained,” and recalled that the federal government of Nigeria has since provided a window of opportunity through the ‘Operation Safe Corridor’ programme to insurgents who surrender willingly to be deradicalised and rehabilitated.
He said: “About 300 insurgents who willingly surrendered are currently benefiting from this programme.”
He called on all Boko Haram insurgents to abandon the futile struggle and take advantage of the Safe Corridor programme by surrendering willingly to troops in any location nearest to them.
He said: “We guarantee their safety and incorporation into the programme for deradicalisation and rehabilitation.”
Meanwhile, the combined forces of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) and the Nigerian Army yesterday inflicted heavy casualties on the side of Boko Haram terrorists (BHT) in the North-east.
NAF Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Vice Marshal Olatokunbo Adesanya explained that “the Air Task Force of Operation Lafiya Dole and its Nigerian Army (NA) counterparts commenced combined clearance operations of discovered Boko Haram Terrorists locations in the Sambisa general area.
“On the first day of the combined clearance operations, the Air Task Force conducted intensive bombardments on selected BHT locations, preparatory to the commencement of the operation.
“Previous Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions by NAF platforms had revealed the presence of BHT in Njimia, in the Sambisa general area, from where the insurgents launched attacks on own surface forces.
“Accordingly, NAF fighter aircraft were detailed to attack the location and each of the aircraft took turns to attack structures occupied by BHT elements in the settlement. The air attacks set several BHT structures ablaze and destroyed them.”
Adesanya stated that “the Air Task Force conducted air interdiction on another BHT hideout near Camp Zairo. Previous ISR on the location had indicated the resurgence of BHT activities in the location, which had been previously liberated.
“Accordingly, structures occupied by BHT elements in the location were attacked, in succession, by NAF fighter aircraft. The air strikes caused the destruction of more BHT structures and the neutralisation of several insurgents. Some insurgents were sighted fleeing the area and they were taken out in subsequent follow-up attacks.
“Later in the evening of the same day, the Air Task Force scrambled two fighter aircraft and one helicopter to support own surface forces that had come under BHT attack at Tokombere, 12km southwest of Camp Zairo.
“The NAF aircraft supported the troops in repelling the attack, causing the insurgents to withdraw to the northeast of Tokombere. Consequently, at about 11 pm, the Air Task Force detailed another helicopter to conduct air interdiction on the insurgents’ new location.
“The Battle Damage Assessment from a NAF ISR platform indicated that the helicopter successfully dropped its weapons on the insurgents’ position, killing many and causing some survivors to flee.
“Consequently, the ISR platform tracked the fleeing insurgents to another location and later coordinated the NA artillery bombardment of the insurgents’ new location. Several rockets were launched from the NA’s Multi-Barrel Rocket Launcher, most of which landed on the insurgents, killing some of them and causing a few survivors to flee in disarray.
“The ongoing combined clearance operations by NAF and NA elements are aimed at preventing the full-scale resurgence of BHT in the SAMBISA general area,” Adesanya added.
Likewise, the Chief of Army Staff Lt. Gen. Tukur Yusuf Buratai, has explained why Bauchi State is peaceful amidst attacks by insurgents in other states in the Northeast, attributing it to the cooperation of residents and the collaboration of security agencies working in the state.
Buratai disclosed this yesterday shortly after he flagged-off the construction of a 600-metre access road at the 33 Artillery Brigade, Bauchi, and inspection of construction of four blocks of accommodation for soldiers at the Nigerian Army Armoured Corps, (NAAC), Bauchi.
He commended the people of the state and the security agencies for the peace enjoyed in Bauchi, which is a huge departure from the current experience of other states in the North-east which are still under pockets of attacks by Boko Haram.
Speaking with journalists at the Command Guest House, Bauchi, the CoAS, who was in company with the GOC 3 Division, Jos, Maj-Gen. Benjamin Ahanotu and other principal officers of the Nigerian Army headquarters, noted: “It is interesting that there have been cordial relationship between the members of the public and the Nigerian Army here in Bauchi.
“You can see for a long time there had been a very peaceful co-existence and they are doing their job and the security situation in Bauchi has greatly improved through the collaborative efforts of all the security agencies – the Police, the DSS, and NSCDC, and most importantly the public are cooperating with us”
Buratai said he was in Bauchi on routine and administrative visit to see the troops and the infrastructural developments that are currently going on within the barracks in the state.
The Army boss who was conducted round the four blocks during the inspection tour by the Commander, NAAC, Bauchi, Maj-Gen. J. Akomolafe, acknowledged that there is “serious housing deficit in the barracks across the nation” and promised to address the problem.
Speaking shortly after the inspection tour, the CoAS said he was impressed with the on-going work and promised to build more of such types of blocks of houses to accommodate officers and men in the barracks.
He added: “There are plans for more. Apart from the buildings, I have been briefed by the two commanders – the 33 Artillery Commander and the Corps Commander, Army, on the developments that are going on in terms of maintenance, they have brought to life many of their vehicles well in terms of the welfare of their troops and I want them to keep it up.”
Speaking earlier, Akomolafe, explained that the capacity in each of the four blocks under construction is 10 apartments. He said: “No amount of words can express our gratitude to you. We cherish your courage, your vision and your character. There is no reward for intention sir and so every opportunity we have to show our appreciation, we will definitely do that. You are welcome to Bauchi.”
Also speaking earlier, the commander, 33 Artillery Brigade Brig-Gen. Timothy Olowomeye, said the 600 metres road would extend into the Brigade Headquarters and the Garrison headquarters in the brigade.