Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja
Marshy terrain and poor weather conditions have stalled military operations in the north-east as the military battles terrorist group, Boko Haram.
But the Nigerian Airforce said fighter aircraft and gunships attacked locations of the terrorists at the fringes of Lake Chad and Sambisa Forest yesterday.
The air interdiction missions tagged “Operation Thunder Strike 2”, is part of the joint military taskforce, Operation Lafiya Dole.
There has been a back and forth movement in the war between ground troops and the insurgents resulting in the territorial claims and capture of military bases and equipment by the insurgents even though the Nigerian Army insists it had recaptured lost grounds.
The army denied it lost more than 46 soldiers to the insurgents last week while the airforce maintained that air strikes were hitting targets.
THISDAY checks revealed that the marshy nature of the fringes of Lake Chad and the surrounding environment has made troop movement difficult.
Tanks are said to have been regularly mired at critical times thus giving room to quick advances by the insurgents, some of whom are more familiar with the terrain than the military forces.
Poor weather conditions are also said to be making accurate air strikes difficult when fighter planes move in for air interdictions. The weather situation have slowed down the response time at critical moments.
But the Nigerian Airforce said in spite of the operational challenges, air strikes had significantly reduced attack on troops.
Reacting to the development, Airforce spokesman Air commodore Ibikunle Daramola, said airfocrce jets had repeatedly pounded terrorist targets.
“I agree that this is rainy reason and the terrain is extremely marshy causing a lot of problems for the ground troops. Except for weather issues, the airforce has pounded their targets. When you undertake such operations, it takes time for the effect to be felt.
“This is a systematic operation. The army has regrouped and positioned troops in the right places”, he said.
The fighter planes, the airforce said, hit targets at Kollaram on the Lake Chad Green fringes as well as Bula Korege within Sambisa Forest.
“The attack at Kollaram was conducted with Human Intelligence reports, that led to the identification of a Boko Haram hideout within the settlement.
“Accordingly, the Air Task Force detailed a fighter aircraft to attack the insurgents’ hideout which was destroyed while many terrorists were killed.
“Further air missions had also observed significant presence of the insurgents in the middle of Bula Korege on the fringes of Sambisa Forest, with several buildings identified as locations where some of their leaders reportedly resided.
“Consequently, Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Alpha Jet aircraft and 2 helicopter gunships were detailed to carry out air interdiction at the location.
“The attacks by the fighter jets destroyed about 12 dwellings of the insurgents and several solar panels in the area of interest. A few survivors were seen fleeing the area and appropriately engaged by the Mi-35M helicopter gunships.
“The NAF will sustain the momentum of the operation with a view to decimating the remnants of the insurgents”, a statement from the Airforce said.