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Boko Haram bows to superior firepower, retreats from Bama

By News Express on 07/09/2014

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Insurgent fighters from the Boko Haram Islamic sect were in full retreat from the strategic town of Bama, in Borno State, at the weekend following a fierce aerial onslaught by the Nigerian Air Force (NAF), military sources confirmed yesterday. They said the aerial attack aimed at knocking off Boko Haram’s weapon installations in the town it had recently overrun, had been effective and yielding the desired results.

President Goodluck Jonathan had on Friday, reportedly, ordered a full-scale war against Boko Haram.

NAF intensified its bombing campaign at the weekend to rid Bama of the terrorists, pockets of which were still said to be holding out in the town and its environs. But the battle took a heavy toll on civilian lives and property as the insurgents were said to be embedded with residents, locals said.

A source said: “The first attacks didn’t really make the expected impact but the second round of bombardment really injured those Boko Haram boys, which is why they are retreating now. They are no more deep into Bama, while our people are advancing and gaining territory. The Boko Haram boys are right now retreating.

“We are now dislodging them. You know, Air Force have intensified their efforts; they brought F-7 and different kinds of aircraft. They really bombarded them.”

Another military source confirmed the advances of the Armed Forces in the battle of Bama but cautioned that it was no time for celebration yet, as the operation was still ongoing in several parts of Borno State. He said the situation was “still very volatile” with Gwoza far from being liberated from the terrorists’ siege.

“We don’t want to say anything official but there are still fights going on in different places and on different scales, especially by air. This is a critical and unusual time,” the senior military officer said.

A senior Air Force officer, who spoke from Borno State, said apart from the aerial campaign in Bama, NAF had been effective in support of the ground forces with the launch of air attacks with different aircraft types, including helicopter gunships.

He said: “We are very deeply involved. You know what we are having here is a joint operation of the services, even though the Navy may not be involved right now because of the terrain.

“First and foremost, apart from the airlift, we are equally supporting the ground forces; in most of the cases we even take the initiative. In modern warfare, Air Force normally does the first dirty job: clear the road for the Army to do the mop-up operations.

“Like I said, all our platforms are participating fully here. We have Alpha Jets, we have F7, Beechcraft, Mi35, which is the gunships, and then all our transport planes: C-130, the G TripleT. So we are participating fully and playing a significant role in that place.”

The Defence Headquarters had vowed in a statement by Director of Defence Information, Major General Chris Olukolade, that it will not allow any violation of the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity by terrorists. The statement was in apparent response to a growing sense of apprehension among citizens and foreigners following recent reports about the gain of territories in Borno State by Boko Haram.

“While welcoming all the concerns shown by Nigerians and a section of the international community following the increased menace and activities of terrorists, it is necessary to reassure all that the Nigerian Armed Forces is more than ever determined and committed to the defence of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Nigeria, regardless of any odd,” Olukolade stated. “We therefore urge our citizens not to lose hope or be disenchanted but to remain steadfast and supportive of the military as all steps are being taken to ensure the success of the counter-insurgency operations, especially at this crucial time when our sovereignty is being challenged.”

But a military intelligence source said: “Gwoza is still a no-go area, I must tell you the truth, as the town is firmly in hands of the Boko Haram terrorists. We are currently focusing on Bama before advancing to other areas.”

But Boko Hram opened another front in the antiterrorism war on Friday after an attack on Gulak town, the headquarters of Madagali Local Government Area of Adamawa State. The Secretary to the Government of Adamawa State, Professor Liman Tukur, who confirmed the attack in a statement, said insurgents had taken over the town.

The opening of another key battlefront in Adamawa State by the insurgents marked a major escalation in the anti-terror war. Tukur said the insurgents killed and displaced many people in Gulak during the attack on the town.

The Adamawa State SSG said in a release at the weekend: “It has come to the attention of the Adamawa State Government that insurgents are now in Gulak, the headquarters of Madagali Local Government Area, and had killed and displaced scores of people.

“On behalf of the people and government of Adamawa, His Excellency deeply sympathises with the people of Gulak and other surrounding villages and towns whose areas had been overran by insurgents.

“The concomitant effects of the insurgency, like displacement of whole villages and towns, create multitudes of internally displaced persons whose management and welfare the government is left to bear.”

Residents of some villages in Michika Local Government Area, which borders Madagali local government, were said to be fleeing to Uba, Mubi, and Yola for fear of possible attacks.

Chief Press Secretary to the acting governor of Adamawa State, Mr. Solomon Kumangar, also confirmed the attack on Gulak town by insurgents and said several people were killed.

Kumangar, however, denied reports that the residence of the acting governor, Alhaji Umaru Fintiri, in Gulak had been torched by the Boko Haram terrorists.

•Excerpted from a THISDAY report. Photo shows Nigerian troops hunting Boko Haram insurgents in Borno State.

Source News Express

Posted 07/09/2014 10:28:24 AM

 

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