Boko Haram terrorists on Wednesday evening attacked Nigerian troops involved in the clearance and rescue operations in Sambisa forest nicknamed ‘Operation Crack Down’, while on harbour.
According to Acting Director, Army Public Relations, Colonel Sani Usman, the terrorists came in five Toyota Hilux vehicles mounted with Anti-Aircraft guns which they fired along with 81mm mortar.
The battle ready troops rose to the occasion and repelled the attack and pursued the terrorists as they withdrew in disarray towards the river line of Izza-Mainyakare axis.
The attack lasted for about 40 minutes without any casualty on Nigerian troops while an unconfirmed number of Boko Haram terrorists were killed. The troops recovered an 81mm mortar tube from the terrorists.
The Army says its troops have maintained highest level alertness and vigilance at the harbour area and they would further exploit and continue with the clearance operation.
The Nigerian Army is presently conducting operations in the Sambisa forest to finally clear the area of insurgents.
Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Olonisakin, told journalists in Maiduguri, that the major clearance operation is already five days gone with remarkable success.
Olonisakin, who is meeting with the Chief of Army Staff as well as the Chief of Air Staff in the Military Command and Control Center also said that they were appraising the level of troops’ performance in the operation with a view to re-strategise.
“That operation is actually to clear Sambisa and that’s operation “Crack Down”. That’s the operation we are engaged in right now; the operation is on course.
“It’s five days gone now and the little issues that are being encountered by the troops would be addressed so that the momentum of the operation can be sustained,” he stated.
On the Chibok school girls still in captivity and the rescue plan, the CDS said, “Fundamentally there are five little operations within that big operation. Rescue operation is also one of the operations and anyone that has been abducted by the Boko Haram terrorists would be rescued in that operation including the Chibok girls if they are there.”
He pledged the Army’s determination to wipe out insurgents from the Sambisa forest and within Nigeria’s territories.
Recently ambushed General Officer Commanding, 7 Division of the Nigerian Army in Maiduguri, Major General Victor Ezugwu, is on the fore of the latest onslaught on the Sambisa forest.
The Chief Security Officer (CSO) at the Potiskum GSM Market, Mr Bala Lawan, injured in the Potiskum Market blast, said the female suicide bomber “beat all surveillance” to trigger her explosive device at the rowdy market gate.
The death toll from the blast, which occurred on Sunday has increased to six. Five persons were reported dead shortly after the blast while the sixth person died later.
Speaking to Channels Television on his hospital bed in Potiskum, the CSO said: “Shortly after the first bomb blast carried out by two female suicide bombers at the same venue weeks back, authorities of the market banned women from entering the market while thorough checks were carried out on male customers before entrance”.
According to him, “the lady was pacing around at the gate for sometime, but since she could not have the courage to seek entrance, she decided to release her trigger at the gate, killing five people and injuring several others”.
“The Blast Went Off”
Two other victims of the blast, Idriss Adamu and Umar Mohammed also shared their experiences.
Mr Adamu said he had just finished paying for the repairs of his bicycle close to the GSM market when he heard the explosion.
“There was an argument at the gate and I could hear them trying to restrict her entry and suddenly I heard a heavy sound. I felt some pains within my arms and one Good Samaritan came to my rescue and brought me to the hospital. That is all I can remember,” he said.
Sharing his own experience, Mohammed said: “We came to the market to buy a handset and after that, we were screened and while we were departing, we passed the lady alleged to have triggered the explosive. I had Bala, the CSO, asking her why she was coming towards the gate, knowing full-well that women were banned from entering. As I turned to watch what was transpiring between the CSO and the lady, the blast went off and all I could see were several people laying down on the ground including myself”.
The Chief nursing officer of the Potiskum General Hospital, Abbas Lawan, said the death toll from the blast had risen to six while 51 persons sustained various degrees of injury.
He also said 10 of the victims, who had serious cases, were referred to the Federal Medical Centre in Nguru in Yobe State while only three were currently receiving treatment at the Hospital.
The medical officer said the remaining 45 had been treated and discharged, as their cases could be manage even from their homes.
Suicide bombing has become rampant in Potiskum, the commercial city of Yobe State, in the volatile north-east Nigeria.
Suicide bombers have continued to hit motor parks, markets, restaurants and several other public places in recent times in Potiskum town and at various times, several lives have been lost while lots of property had been destroyed.
Police in Nigeria say security forces in Bajoga, headquarters of Funnakaye Local Government Area of Gombe State in the north-east, repelled an attack on the town by suspected members of the Boko Haram.
The spokesman of the Gombe State Police Command, Deputy Superintendent (DSP) Fwaje Atajiri, told reporters on Friday that normalcy had returned to area.
The suspected members of the terrorist group, attacked residents in the area in the early hours of Friday.
Bajoga is 60 KMs north of Gombe, the state capital and shares border to the east with Gulani and Gujba Local Government Areas of Yobe State, which have received a fair share of the attacks by the Boko Haram terrorist group members.
Mr Atajiri said that the attackers came to the town around 8:30am local time but the attack was repelled by security forces on ground.
“There was an attack on Bajoga around 8:30 this morning by gunmen. It was an unfortunate incident that had since been brought under control. It is not a new thing in the north-east geopolitical zone of this country. This has been a phenomenon that we have been grappling with and thank God our men successfully repelled the attack,” he said.
Attack On Ashaka Cement Company
The police spokesman explained that the gunmen also made an attempt to launch attack on the nearby Ashaka Cement Company but their efforts were thwarted by the security forces and calls for collaboration with the wee-meaning members of the society in defeating the terrorists.
He advised the general public to be watchful of strangers among them and to immediately report suspicious movements around them.
Mr Atajiri did not disclose any casualty figure inflicted on the people of the community but residents said so many lives were lost while some government property were destroyed during the attack.
Places touched according to witnesses include; the divisional police office of the area, the Union Bank PLC, the First City Monument Bank (FCMB) of the town as well as the Bajoga Local Government secretariat.
Eyewitness account also said an ambulance and a Toyota Hilux Van were taken away by the hoodlums.
Today’s violence is coming three days after persons believed to be members of the sect launched an attack on Damaturu, the Yobe State capital, in an attempt to seize control of the town.
Meanwhile, security has been beefed up within Gombe metropolis in an attempt to contain any attack by the terrorists.
Former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, appears miffed at the continuous bashing of the Nigerian armed forces in the face of the growing threat posed by the Boko Haram sect.
Therefore, he has challenged the military to urgently correct the negative impression about them and their operations.
While acknowledging that the military has records of competence to boast about, General Gowon, whose message was delivered by former Lagos State Military Administrator, Brigadier-General Buba Marwa (Rtd), assured the military of his support as it continues effort to flush the insurgents out of Nigeria.
He was speaking in Abuja against the back drop of reports suggesting that soldiers were fleeing from militants in the north-east.
Authorities of 7 Division of Nigerian Army in Borno State, north-east Nigeria, on Saturday, released another batch of 125 Boko Haram suspects and handed them to the State Governor, Kashim Shettima, after being cleared of any involvement in terrorist activities.
The cleared suspects, according to military authorities in Maiduguri, were among the 254 arrested suspects on September 23, 2014 in various operations carried out in the southern part of the state.
Presenting the suspects to the State Governor, the Deputy Director, Army Public Relations, Col. Sani Usman, said that the cleared suspects have been found innocent of any terrorists activities.
He said that the 125 suspects were cleared among the 254 arrested Boko Haram suspects in various attacks and killings in Southern Borno Senatorial District, where the Sambisa Forest, is located.
“These cleared suspects being presented to you were, however, cleared by the military after a thorough investigations by the military of any alleged involvement or participation in terrorists activities in the recent attacks and killings experienced in Southern Borno state,” the PRO said.
He also called on the people of Borno to continue to cooperate with the military by divulging useful information on how to end insurgency and other terrorist activities not only in Borno State but in the entire country.
Receiving the suspects, Governor Shettima said that it was an epochal event for over a 100 suspects to be released and absolved from any terrorist activities by the military.
“The gesture of the military will continue to build trust between the people and troops of 7 Division of Nigerian Army that are fighting terrorism in Borno State.
“We thank all the military officers and men for this historic event of releasing suspects that have nothing to do with insurgency or any terror activity here in Borno state,” the Governor said.
He urged the released suspects to exhibit good behaviours in their respective towns and villages; and to also assist the military by giving useful information on how to end the insurgency.
The released suspects were given 20,000 naira each for transportation to their various destinations, as well as 10 yards of clothes.
This was the second release in the week as the military had earlier in the week released 42 suspects, among which were three foreigners from Burkina Faso, Chad and Cameroon.