Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja
Military authorities said yesterday that 100 notorious commanders and fighters of the terrorist group, Boko Haram, were killed by joint military operations involving air and ground components.
Some of the top commanders included Khalid Tukur, Maimusari and Bakura Jega, the military said.
The operations came as Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. Gen. Faruk Yahaya, and his counterpart, Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Oladayo Amao, arrived Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, weekend, to celebrate the Yuletide with frontline troops.
The insurgents were eliminated at Mantari in Gezuwa area of Bama Local Government Area of Borno State alongside 75 other terrorists.
A military update issued by the spokesman of the Nigerian Air Force, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, said the operations, which resulted in the killing of the terrorists, were conducted jointly.
Gabkwet stated, “The airstrikes by our NAF aircraft was authorised after it was revealed that a Boko Haram terror commander, simply known as Ikirima, had stationed his fighters and gun trucks at Mantari village alongside other terrorists from other locations, who had converged at the same location, on motorcycles and bicycles.
“Subsequently, the authorisation for an air strike was given, leading to the elimination of several of the terrorists and structures in the area.”
Gabkwet said after the first wave of the airstrikes, some surviving terrorists found their way back to the same location to evacuate the bodies of neutralised terrorists.
“This, thus, provided an opportunity for a follow-up strike on the same location, which has been confirmed very successful, as over 100 terrorists were neutralised with dozens said to be in critical condition,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Islamic State for West African Province (ISWAP) and Boko Haram elements have, reportedly, perfected plans to resume active hostilities in the wake of the Yuletide and forthcoming general elections, according to sources.
“The timely intelligence received on their plans, especially their attempt to attack soft targets in Bama LGA, thus, helped in the successful airstrike, which has reduced their will to regroup and attack innocent citizens,” a security source said.
Yahaya and Amao commended the efforts of the air and ground troops as well as other security agencies under Operation Hadin Kai for the achievements recorded in the theatre.
The duo affirmed that there was significant improvement in the security situation in the region due to the ongoing operation and urged the troops to continue to give their best towards ensuring that terrorism in the North-east was contained.