Heavy casualties as Boko Haram attacks Bama military barracks
Boko Haram, in another of its daring do, Friday launched a bloody attack on military barracks in Bama, a town 78 kilometres away from Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State.
Heavy casualties were reported after the attack by the insurgents numbering over 300 on the barracks at the wee hours (2.30 am) on Thursday.
A report quotes locals in Bama town as saying that the insurgents who attacked the 202 Tank Battalion, also known as Kuru Mohammed Barracks, were heavily massacred as soldiers had information on the planned attack and ambushed the insurgents, killing many of them.
According to the report, the insurgents had arrived in the area since Thursday afternoon but hid by the road to Gulumba town.
It was learnt that that some residents of Bama town had alerted the military on Thursday on the presence of suspected members of the Boko Haram in the forest around the Firgi village but before troops stormed the area, the insurgents had relocated to another spot.
But the people were able to update the military on the position of the insurgents as another set of of Bama locals told the military that suspected insurgents had relocated to a bush in Gulumba/Woloji road a few kilometres from Bama town along Banki border town and were moving towards the town.
Armed with this information, the military was prepared for the insurgents and took the upper hand in the fiery exchange of gun fires with the insurgents who announced their presence with launches of rockets on the army barracks.
Residents said there was a fierce exchange of gunshots between the military and insurgents where several lives on both sides were lost, with a report putting casualties on the part of military at 20 with those of the insurgents estimated to be several times more..
Reports further indicated that the attackers focused the attack on the barracks as there were no reports of any attack on the civilian populace.
Acting Public Relations Officer of 7 Division, Nigerian Army, Captain Aliyu Danja, said 'it is true, there was an attack in Bama. We are still on it and the details will be made available to you when our troops return from the field.'
Defence Headquarters said it had dispatched more troops to enhance the operation in pursuit of the terrorists that carried out the attack.
Director, Defence Information, Major-General Chris Olukolade, confirmed the attack by terrorists, who came from cells located across Nigeria/Cameroon border through Banki town.
He, however, said normalcy was being restored in the barracks, just as the surrounding communities were being properly secured.
Olukolade said high calibre weapons such as anti-aircraft and rocket-propelled guns were freely used in the attack that lasted several hours.
Many women and children were feared killed in the gun battle that left some parts of the barracks torched, a source told Saturday Tribune, while adding that many of the insurgents were killed.
Olukolade, however, disclosed that ground troops backed by the Air Force had repelled the attack and are in pursuit of the insurgents.
He added that details of casualties recorded in the incident would be officially released when the ongoing cordon-and-search operations in the general area were concluded.
President Goodluck Jonathan, on Friday, went into an emergency meeting with service chiefs in respect of the latest attack in Bama.
Jonathan who was billed to preside over the decoration ceremony of 48 newly promoted Major Generals in the Army, Navy and Air Force cut short his preparation for the event and went into the meeting with the service chiefs.
The inspector-general of police, Muhammed Abubakar, was also attended the meeting held at the Command Officers' Mess, Asokoro, Abuja.
Jonathan who announced that he was meeting with the service chiefs over the Bama attack lamented that the country was passing through a perilous time.
He urged the promoted officers to justify their new positions by working hard to save the country from the current security challenges.
Those decorated at the event yesterday after two others had been decorated by the president at an earlier event included 27 officers from the Army, 15 from the Air Force and six from the Navy.