• Troops get order to capture Shekau alive
• Sect used 1500 landmines to secure Baga, 200 drowned in Lake Chad – DHQ
• Child suicide bomber hits Potiskum again, five dead
The morale of the Nigerian troops is said to have been greatly enhanced in the fight against the Boko Haram insurgents in the North-East region of the country with the war now being led by Generals in the Armed Forces.
In the same vein, the commitment of the troops to the war has also been demonstrable with the recent arrival of sophisticated armaments used in prosecuting the war.
Indeed, the decision of senior military officers to lead the war against terror was said to have influenced the change of some commanders in the Armed Forces in the country nationwide.
Specifically, intelligence sources revealed that some of the successes recorded in recovery of big towns in the North-East were due to deployment of new strategies, improved disciplinary measures, and sincerity of participating countries in the regional alliance and the acquisitions of latest equipment.
Hitherto, the rank of Colonels had led direct attacks in the war against terror in accordance with military tradition. However, because of the large scale desertions recorded, Generals in the Armed Forces now decided to directly lead the war, with clear results that are being recorded, especially with the recapture of major towns, including Baga, Mubi and several others in the North-East states that were under the control of the insurgents.
Only in a week of the massive operation, the troops have recovered Monguno, Marte, Gamboru Ngala, Dikwa, among other big towns and several surrounding communities in Borno State.
Newswatch Times learnt that many of the soldiers that earlier deserted had returned, while others have expressed the desire to return to the battlefront.
“With acquisition of new equipment from various sources and the specialised training of the troops on guerrilla warfare, the military indirectly called the bluff of some deceptive western countries who are now trying to save face by claiming to work with our neighbours.
“The effective collaboration and mutual relationship with our neighbours is paying off as they now realise that inactions can pose disasters to their countries too,” sources told Newswatch Times.
With the successes and grounds gained against the insurgents, Nigerian troops are said to be on red alert for any insurgents’ leader bearing the name of Imam Abubakar Shekau, believed to be desperately looking for escape routes.
A senior military officer was quoted as saying that soldiers have been told to try to capture Shekau alive so that he would face justice.
On two occasions, the military had said it captured certain characters calling themselves Abubakar Shekau in videos but the insurgents were said to have found individuals looking like him, insisting he was still alive.
The military’s order to catch Shekau alive is to put paid to the figure in the insurgency fight.
Sources said Shekau’s touted invincibility may be one reason the troops were afraid to confront the insurgents.
Indeed, more than 200 Boko Haram terrorists were said to be drowned in the Lake Chad at the weekend fight, while hundreds were killed when Nigerian troops defied a ring of 1500 landmines planted by the insurgents around Baga to secure it from the advancing soldiers.
Director of Defence Information, Major General Chris Olukolade, said in the latest update on the counter-insurgency operation in the North East that Boko Haram secured Baga town with more than 1, 500 dangerous landmines to prevent soldiers from recapturing the strategic border town.
“The heavy bombardment by the Air Force heralded the advance of Nigerian troops on the mission to flush out the terrorists from Baga and when many of them fled the town to avoid the bombs, a large number of the terrorists drowned in the Lake Chad.
“Not even the strategy of mining over 1500 spots with dangerous landmines on the routes leading to the town could save the terrorists from the aggressive move of the advancing troops,” Olukolade said.
He stated that all the landmines were skilfully cleared one after the other leading to the eventual collapse of resistance by the terrorists and the land forces finally stormed the town in the early hours of Friday over-running the town on Saturday.
“Many of the terrorists died, while an unknown but substantial number of them fled with various degrees of injury, in the series of encounters along the routes as troops headed for Baga, ‘ Olukolade stated.
The military spokesman disclosed that apart from five anti-aircraft guns and several rifles captured from the terrorists, more than 34 motorcycles and five vehicles including trucks being used for operations by the insurgents were destroyed within and outside Baga.
He said although troops have finally cleared the terrorists from Baga on Saturday, mop-up operations are still going-on in the general surrounding areas of the town to fish out the miscreants who may be lying low.
“A comprehensive cordon and search phase of the military operation has now commenced to enable troops mop up arms and ammunition and also apprehend terrorists who may be hiding in the vicinity.
“The exercise will also determine exact details of the casualties inflicted or incurred in the course of the operations to clear Baga and environs of the terrorists,” he stressed.
The officer also said full scale attack operations have commenced in more than fifteen locations with the aim of liberating the areas before the end of this month.
“Similar exercise has commenced in over 15 locations namely Gajigana, Ngaze, Ngenzai, Marte Junction, Mile 90, Yoyo, Kekeno, Kukawa, Cross Kauwa, Kangarwa, Amirari, Kichimatari, Borokari Barati, Kauwa and other areas where the terrorists flushed out of Baga may be occupying at the moment,” he said.
He revealed in a statement that troops engaged in cordon and search in Baga have continued to discover more arms of various background and shapes abandoned in some houses and the surrounding by fleeing terrorists.
“Heaps of weapons most of which were strange looking or destroyed are still being gathered. Many abandoned or destroyed motorcycles have also been discovered,” he said.
A soldier was also said to have been stabbed while another was shot during a close quarter battle which ensued as troops involved in cordon and search caught up with some of the fleeing terrorists yesterday evening.
“A number of individuals who claimed to be residents are also being interrogated in order to ascertain their identity and motive. The group consisting mostly women continued to hail and cheer the troops as they conduct thorough search in the area. Wanting to be sure the group was not working for the terrorists despite the excitement, they had to be placed under watch.
“The cordon and search as well as patrol of the localities continue while the offensive on terrorists is progressing in other areas of the theatre of the counter terrorist campaign,” the Defence spokesman stated.
Olukolade said the terrorists have devised new strategies of operating with small pockets of fighters to avoid apprehension by troops, but he assured that soldiers are now dominating and conducting aggressive patrols in several locations and that their morale remains very high.
However, a female suicide bomber yesterday killed five people and injured several others in an explosion at GSM market in Potiskum, Yobe State.
The state police command, which confirmed the explosion, said a young girl with explosives strapped around her was responsible for the incident which occurred at a security checkpoint outside the GSM market in the town.
The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Mr Toyin Gbadegesin, said, “Yes, there was a bomb attack at the Potiskum GSM market and our men have moved to the scene for rescue operation and to get details of the incident.
“As at this moment, we do not have the details of deaths and injuries. Our men are still collating the details.”
A witness, Ibrahim Maishago, was also quoted as saying on telephone that the suicide bomber “refused to be checked at the gate of the market and an argument ensued. She let off the bomb, killing herself and five others, while many were injured.”
Some of the survivors said the bomb exploded after an argument between the suspected bomber and local security men at the market.
Resident Bala Potiskum said he saw dozens of wounded being rushed to hospital after the blast, describing the bomber as a “small girl”, estimating that she could not have been more than eight years old.
The incident was the second bomb attack on the market this year, with the first one killing seven people and injuring several others.
The use of female suicide bombers, sometimes young girls, has been a common tactic of Boko Haram since last year, as a way of carrying out revenge attacks on civilians when the group is under pressure.
The insurgents have suffered a string of defeats in a military offensive by Nigeria and its neighbours, Cameroon, Niger and Chad.
The Islamist fighters appear to be on the run in many parts of Nigeria and regions near its borders, after being subjected to a major offensive on all sides, but retain the ability to mount deadly surprise attacks.
Nigerian forces backed by air strikes seized the north-eastern border town of Baga from Boko Haram on Saturday. The military said it was a significant victory and one of a string of recent successes.
Source: Newswatch Daily
• Troops get order to capture Shekau alive