TIMOTHY OLANREWAJU, and UBONG UKPONG.SUN .May 18, 2013
The special military troops deployed to quell the Boko Haram insurgency in Borno and Yobe states, yesterday intensified aerial bombardment of the sect’s camps located in the central and northern parts of the state, military source said. Among the targetted camps include Sambisa Game Reserve identified in the security circle as a major training camp for the militant group.
Other camps are said to be located around Ngala, Mafa, central Borno and Marte in the northern part of the state. Also, Gujba south of Yobe is identified as another Boko Haram hideout. Sambisa is about 50 kilometres southeast of Maiduguri, the Borno State capital. Security sources disclosed that massive airstrikes were launched at the camps, leading to the death of many of the insurgents. A source claimed that at least 22 of the militants were killed.
Reports also indicated that the Boko Haram armed men made spirited efforts in bringing down a military fighter jet yesterday with their anti-aircraft guns but were suppressed by the military offensive. A top intelligence source also revealed that some of the insurgents appear to have been abandoning their camps under aerial attacks and retreating into the deserts of Chad and Niger republic.
Spokesman of the Nigeria Defence Headquarters, Brig Gen Chris Olukolade said in Abuja that the military troops used jets and helicopters to bombard Boko Haram camps and hideouts both at Sambisa Game Reserve and other areas identified as Boko Haram camps by the Nigerian security agencies. According to him, “a number of insurgents have been killed. It is not just at Sambisa, every camp is under attack,” Brig Gen Olukolade said yesterday in Abuja.
He also disclosed that the military was yet to do mopping up operations on the ground at the sect camps to ascertain the number of militants killed in the attack. Apart from closing of the borders, most of the major roads linking Borno with neighbouring Adamawa and Yobe states, the two other states under state of emergency, have been cordoned off by security forces. “We were not allowed to pass to Biu road today (Friday) on our way to Yola. We were turned back and we have to obey,” a commercial driver claimed. An army personnel told Saturday Sun the measure was to checkmate the militants from fleeing into other states.
Adamawa, Borno and Yobe share borders locally and internationally with Cameroon, Chad and Niger. Meanwhile, the total shutdown of telecommunications network of the major Global Mobile Services (GSM) in Borno and Yobe continued yesterday. Though, residents witnessed an improvement in the early hours of Friday but at about 11am, the network was completely cut off. Saturday Sun gathered reliably that the GSM network shutdown was part of the security measures in the ongoing offensive against the Boko Haram militants. “It is to ensure that the terrorists are disconnected completely and the measure is working,” the source said. Meanwhile, the Defence Headquarters (DHQ), yesterday, said that advancing troops of Special Task Force (STF), have destroyed some terrorists’ camps sited in the forests of Northern and central Borno.
A statement from the DHQ signed by the Director of Defence Information (DDI), Brigadier General Chris Olukolade, and made available to the media in Abuja, said that heavy weapons including anti-aircraft and anti-tank guns were also destroyed in the process. “The special operations, which preceded troops movement, have resulted in the destruction of much of the insurgents’ weapons and logistics such as vehicles, containers, fuel dumps and power generators. The casualties inflicted on the insurgents in the cause of the assault will be verified during mop-up.
“The Defence Headquarters is quite satisfied with the progress of the operation and the fighting spirit of participating troops. The Special Task Force has been enjoined to sustain the tempo”, the statement disclosed. It further stated that border posts have all been manned by security agents to prevent escape or infiltrations by insurgents