SSS Jail Break: 'Killed Boko Haram Insurgent Had Cell Phone'

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An interesting twist has been added to last Sunday's shootout at the national headquarters of the Department of State Security Services (DSS) following security reports that one of the killed Boko Haram insurgents had a mobile phone at the time he was gunned down.

Under normal conditions suspected terrorists in such detention centres are denied the luxury of mobile telephones and other communication devices.

Apparently embarrassed by the security breach which panicked residents of Abuja, DSS has promised to investigate the circumstances that caused the shootout.

However, Presidency sources relayed the shock that greeted soldiers when they found a ringing cell phone on one of the insurgents shot dead by security forces.

DSS confirmed that 21 insurgents were killed during the failed jail-break. A security source however said as many as 30 insurgents and two DSS officials died in the shootout.

Prior to the attack, at least 100 insurgents were said to be detained in DSS bunkers.

About 30 minutes into the sustained shooting by the insurgents, panicky residents around the exclusive Aso Drive put distress calls to top military officers including the Commander, Brigade of Guards, Brig.-General Anthony Omozoje.

Some of the residents, who told they feared a coup was in the making, said their fears heightened when they saw several apparently frightened DSS operatives running away from their

The arrival of soldiers from the Brigade of Guards, President Goodluck Jonathan's ADC and Chief Security Officer, the witnesses claimed, changed the situation.

A source who was part of the operation, told that but for their intervention, the insurgents would have “completely overran their (DSS) base.”

Narrated the source, “When we arrived, the place was in chaos. There was sustained gunfire from all directions. Since we could not ascertain if it was enemy or friendly fire, we had to deploy our military training.

“Our commanders ordered that we activate the fire and movement strategy. One by one we were able to move in neutralize the insurgents who had almost taken total control of the entire are,” he added.

It was in the process of “neutralizing” the insurgents, stressed the source, “that we found a cell phone ringing on one of the bodies.”

He further narrated,” It was during the gunfight that we heard a mobile phone ringing. On closer examination we discovered that the ringing tone was from the pocket of one of the neutralized insurgents.”

On what became of the phone, he said, “The caller's number was saved as 'office'. It kept ringing, but we didn't pick the call because it might be a bobby trap.

“They (DSS) refused to allow us leave with the telephone. They claimed it was their exhibit. The million-dollar question is how an insurgent in an SSS underground cell got a mobile phone?” posed the source.

He was quick to add that the ringing mobile telephone suggested that the attack was not only premeditated, but fueled concern that Boko Haram may have infiltrated the DSS.

The discovery of one suspected insurgent in one of the cars in the DSS parking lot, he added, nearly caused a big problem.

“Having disarmed the man, we wanted to take him for questioning. DSS personnel objected, claiming the man was one of their key witnesses. They however couldn't explain why he was hiding in one of the cars,” added the source.

He explained that the over three-hour gun fight was caused by the several vehicles parked in the DSS headquarters.

“They kept firing sporadically using the cars as shied. We had to professionally engage them without causing collateral damage,” the source offered.

DSS spokesperson Mrs Marilyn Ogar had Monday assured that the service had launched a probe into the matter.

She had Sunday admitted that 21 insurgents died in the shootout, but was silent on how they died and who killed them.

According to Ogar, the incident happened at 7:15am when one of its officers went to give the detainees food.

“One of the suspects attempted to disarm him by hitting him at the back of his head with his handcuff,” she said.

“His attempt to escape drew the attention of other guards at the facility who fired some shots to warn and deter others”, the DSS spokesperson added.