Military Bombards Boko Haram Camps, scores killed

By The Citizen

The aerial bombardment, involving jets and helicopter gunships, targeted at Boko Haram terrorist training camps in the southern and northern parts of Borno State, continued Friday with unconfirmed number of militants reportedly killed.  The military suffered minimal casualties, according to a top officer.

The officer spoke in Maiduguri, the state capital, on his return from the two-day 'strategic operation' by soldiers at the Sambisa Games Reserves (SGR) located in three council areas of state, where the Boko Haram members first emerged in 2009.

Sambisa is about 50 kilometres southeast of Maiduguri and is an epicentre of Boko Haram activities.

The officer confirmed the shutting down of communication networks shortly before the training camps in the forest and unspecified number of Boko Haram sect members were identified during the aerial bombardments that lasted over 24 hours in the forest.

The Joint Task Force (JTF) had in the past tracked down Boko Haram members through their mobile phone signals, prompting the terrorists to attack telecommunications masks and other facilities in the embattled areas.

The officer further disclosed that in addition to aerial attack on the forest, unspecified number of insurgents were killed and their arms, ammunitions and vehicles used recently in attacking Bama, Damboa and Gwoza onslaught destroyed.

He said: 'Even though the terrorists' training camps in northern parts of Borno State are isolated in three different locations, the two-day aerial bombardment has already identified and destroyed three main camps in Mafa, Marte and Gambouru/Ngala councils.

'The number of terrorists killed in the border areas with Cameroun was however higher than those at Mafa and Marte.

'Some of the suspected terrorists attempted to flee into neighbouring Chad and Cameroun but were caught unawares in northern part of the state, with military air and infantry precisions in these successful strategic operations in Borno State.'

Soldiers started attacking the Sambisa Forest Reserve on Thursday where they had converged shortly before President Goodluck Jonathan's declaration.

A resident of Damboa also told The Guardian yesterday that some of the residents attempted to flee their houses to the bushes and farms on sighting the troops in their vehicles and armoured tanks along Biu road on Wednesday, but were advised by men of Joint Task Force (JTF) deployed to the town early this year to remain indoors until the two-day aerial bombardment of SGR was completed.

On the total number of terrorists killed in the operations, the military officer said it is only Defence spokesman in Abuja, Brig-Gen. Chris Olukolade, who can authenticate and announce the number of insurgents killed after collating the figures from the three states under emergency rule.

A statement later from the Defence Headquarters, signed by Olukolade, said: 'Advancing troops of Special Task Force (STF) have destroyed some terrorists camps sited in the forests of northern and central Borno.

'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 statement expressed satisfaction with the progress of the operation and the fighting spirit of participating troops, saying the STF have been enjoined to sustain the tempo.

It stated that the country's border posts in the axis have all been manned by security agents to prevent escape or infiltrations by insurgents.   Meanwhile, in Adamawa State, heavily armed military men and fighter jets continued to patrol the state and the borders, which have been closed.

The 6pm to 6am curfew in the state is being strictly enforced.