Number Of Aid Workers Killed By Insurgents Doubled In 2019, Says UN

Boko Haram: 27,000 Civilians Killed In Three States – UN

 

The United Nations has condemned the spate of attacks on aid workers providing support to victims of insurgency in the north-eastern region of Nigeria.

UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Mr Edward Kallon, revealed on Thursday that the number of humanitarian workers killed by the insurgents last year was twice the figure recorded in the previous year.

“A total of twelve aid workers have lost their lives in 2019,” he said in a statement forwarded to Channels Television.

The UN envoy added, “This is twice more than in 2018, which we thought was amongst the most dangerous years for humanitarian actors in Nigeria.”

He blamed the killings on the environment in which aid workers carry out their duties, stressing that the level of insecurity in the region has been on the rise.

Kallon also decried the activities of the insurgents at various checkpoints in the region, saying the trend has exposed a lot of innocent citizens to attacks in recent times.

He said, “I am extremely worried by the increasingly insecure environment that humanitarians are working in to provide urgent and vital assistance to civilians affected by the crisis.

“The humanitarian community is troubled by the increased trend in vehicular checkpoints set up by non-state armed groups along main supply routes in the states of Borno and Yobe.”

“These checkpoints expose civilians and humanitarians to heightened risks of being killed or abducted,” the humanitarian coordinator said.

He, therefore, urged the Nigerian Government and all relevant agencies to protect the residents and aid workers from “grave violations” of international laws.

Kallon advised that special attention should be given to women and children who he said were among the most vulnerable people caught up in the violence.

According to him, aid workers and the assistance they provide to the most vulnerable populations make the difference between life and death for entire communities in crisis-affected Borno, Adamawa and Yobe States.

“Their security is paramount, and I call on all parties to assure the safety of aid workers and the unimpeded delivery of humanitarian aid,” he said.

UN Decries Increase In Checkpoints Manned By Non-State Armed Groups

A file photo of UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Mr Edward Kallon. Photo: [email protected]

 

 

The United Nations is worried about the activities of Boko Haram insurgents at various checkpoints in the North-East.

With the recent trend, UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Mr Edward Kallon, believes the people in the region and aid workers there are more exposed to attacks by the terrorists.

“I am extremely worried by the increasingly insecure environment that humanitarians are working in to provide urgent and vital assistance to civilians affected by the crisis,” he said in a statement on Thursday.

Kallon added, “The humanitarian community is troubled by the increasing trend in vehicular checkpoints set up by non-state armed groups along main supply routes in the states of Borno and Yobe.

“These checkpoints expose civilians and humanitarians to heightened risks of being killed or abducted.”

Boko Haram: 27,000 Civilians Killed In Three States – UN

 

The UN envoy also decried the spate of attacks on aid workers providing support to victims of insurgency in the region.

He disclosed that a total of 12 humanitarian workers were killed last year, stressing that the figure doubled the number recorded in 2018.

Kallon blamed the killings on the environment in which aid workers carry out their duties, insisting that the level of insecurity in the region has been on the rise.

He, therefore, called on the Nigerian Government and all relevant agencies to protect the residents and aid workers from “grave violations” of international laws.

Aid workers and the assistance they provide to the most vulnerable populations, according to him, make the difference between life and death for entire communities in crisis-affected Borno, Adamawa and Yobe States.

Insurgents Release Three Aid Workers, Others Abducted In Borno

Air Force Officer Dismissed For Raping 14-Year-Old IDP

 

Three aid workers and some residents abducted by insurgents by suspected members of the Boko Haram terrorist group have regained their freedom.

Although the number of residents freed has yet to be ascertained, the insurgents released the victims on Wednesday.

The kidnapped persons were released by their abductors about three weeks after they were abducted along the Monguno-Maiduguri Road in Borno State.

READ ALSO: Insurgents ‘Abduct’ Two Aid Workers, Kill Four Travellers

The United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Mr Edward Kallon, confirmed the release in a statement forwarded to Channels Television on Thursday.

He said, “I am deeply relieved that some civilians, including three aid workers, who were abducted by non-state armed groups along the Monguno – Maiduguri road on 22 December 2019 have been released yesterday and are now safe.”

“The whole humanitarian community in Nigeria shares the joy of the families, friends and colleagues of these aid workers, who can now put to rest the unimaginable anxiety of missing their loved ones,” the UN envoy added.

A file photo of a community in Borno State.

 

 

He described the freed aid workers as dedicated humanitarians making efforts to provide life-saving support to millions of Nigeria’s “most vulnerable” in north-eastern Borno State.

“They should never have been a target or have to endure the trauma of being held captive,” Kallon decried.

Although he welcomed the release of the three aid workers, the humanitarian coordinator was worried about the fate of the others abducted in the incident.

He was also concerned for the lives of two other aid workers – Grace Taku who was abducted near Damasak in July 2019, as well as Alice Loksha, a nurse and a mother who has been held captive since March 2018 following an attack in Rann.

“Both are still held captive by non-state armed groups. The United Nations and its humanitarian partners call for their immediate and safe release,” said Kallon.

Boko Haram Attack Theatre Commander Of Operation Lafiya Dole

Air Force Officer Dismissed For Raping 14-Year-Old IDP

 

Boko Haram insurgents, on Monday, attacked the Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, Major Gen. Olusegun Adeniyi.

According to a military source, the incident occurred around 7:20 pm when Adeniyi was on his way back to Maiduguri after a visit to troops who were recently deployed to Jakana to strengthen the security in the general area.

“As we were coming back to Maiduguri after we left Jakana, we suddenly started hearing gunshots all over,” the source who pleaded anonymity said.

Read Also: [VIDEO] Buratai Dares Insurgents, Climbs ‘Dreaded’ Gwoza Hills In Borno

“Before we realized it, they had bombarded us with heavy fire from different angles. Fortunately for us, we were able to repel the attack and escape.

He, however, stated that the vehicle of the theatre commandant was badly damaged with many gun holes.

The Army later released a statement. Read the full statement below.

More Criminal Boko Haram Insurgents Decimated At The Site Of A Failed Ambush Sprung Against The Theater Commanders’ Convoy.

In a clear display of misguided desperation to stage a reprisal following the recent neutralisation of several of their top commanders by troops of Operation LAFIYA DOLE, on 6 January 2020, some marauding elements of the criminal Boko Haram insurgents laid and eventually sprung an ambush against the convoy of the Theater Commander Operation LAFIYA DOLE, Major General Olusegun Adeniyi.

The Theatre Commander’s convoy came under the criminals ineffective and uncoordinated fire from Anti-Aircraft Guns, Machines Guns, Rocket Propelled Grenades and some of their foot soldiers about 2 Kilometers to Auno in Kaga LGA of Borno State while returning from Jakana where he visited troops’ location following his earlier meeting with the Executive Governor of Borno State, Professor Babagana Umara Zulum at Auno.

In a commendable demonstration of bold action in battle, the Theatre Commander led the gallant troops of his convoy to engage the criminal Boko Haram Insurgents with superior firepower, subduing them and thereafter assaulting the ambush site with his men thereby causing the criminal insurgents to flee the location in disarray.

Other senior military officers in the Theatre Commanders’ convoy at the time of the ambush include the Deputy Theatre Commander, Maj Gen MG Ali, Brig Gen EI Eze, Brig Gen SI Igbinomwanya and Lt AA Tejuoso. In the aftermath of the encounter, several Boko Haram criminal insurgents were decimated.

Additionally, 20 rounds of 7.62mm Special ammunition, 2 rounds of 7.62mm NATO ammunition, one camouflage trouser, one Nigeria Police Force fragmental jacket, 2 AK 47 Rifles and 3 AK 47 Rifle magazines were captured from the fleeing insurgents.

Thereafter, the Theatre Commander Major General Olusegun Adeniyi and his convoy continued their trip and have since returned safely to the Headquarters Theatre Command Operation LAFIYA DOLE in Maiduguri.

Regrettably, 2 soldiers were wounded in action during the encounter. The Wounded soldiers are currently receiving treatment at a military medical facility and are responding positively to treatment.

To this end, the Theatre Commander, on behalf of the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Yusufu Buratai congratulates the troops for their resilience and courage and urges them not to relent in their efforts until all the remnants of the Boko Haram and ISWAP criminal insurgents are completely annihilated and defeated.

You are kindly requested to disseminate the above information to the general public for awareness. Thank you for your usual cooperation.

*AMINU ILIYASU*
Colonel
Nigerian Army Operations Media Coordinator
7 January 2020

Borno Governor Begs Army To ‘Retake’ Three LGAs From Insurgents

Governor Babagana Zulum

 

 

Borno State Governor, Babagana Zulum, has appealed to the Nigerian Army to reclaim three Local Government Areas (LGAs) of the state still under the control of the insurgents.

He made the plea on Monday when he received the Minister of Defence, Major General Bashir Magashi (rtd) at the Government House in Maiduguri, the state capital.

Governor Zulum listed the affected local governments as Marte, Kukawa, and Abadam LGAs.

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“Military operation has to be followed by stabilisation mechanism and, therefore, three local government areas are really key,” he stated, adding that they must “be retaken”.

The governor said, “We shall be happy if the Nigerian military and other security operatives will develop a modus operandi of re-establishing such businesses to boost the local economy.”

He stressed the need for the military to incorporate economic recovery and rehabilitation of idle people in towns around the Lake Chad region where the insurgents were still holding sway.

The governor was also worried that keeping thousands of people, especially in camps with no source of livelihood was a ready-made material for Boko Haram insurgents on recruitment missions in villages.

He, however, believes with the military presence and civil authority, the economy of the areas would be rejuvenated, and the Boko Haram menace would be reduced.

On his part, Magashi informed his host that he was in Borno to appraise the operations that would shape future decisions in the counter-insurgency war in the North East.

He paid the governor a courtesy visit at the State House in company with top officers of the army and the Nigerian Air Force in the state.

The minister had visited the Headquarters of the Air Task Force of Operation Lafia Dole on Sunday and proceeded to Monguno, the Headquarters of Sector 3.

 

During his visit to the Theatre of Operation which lasted two days, Magashi had a series of interactions with various unit commanders in the presence of the service chiefs who had accompanied him.

The Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, Major General Olusegun Adeniyi, conducted the visiting minister and the service chiefs around the Theatre as they assessed equipment and the armoury.

Adeniyi said the fighting troops were resolute and would not be distracted in their goal until the insurgents were defeated.

The minister’s visit came at a time when the activities of the insurgents appear to be thriving around the Lake Chad Basin.

750 Families To Get Permanent Shelters In Borno

Air Force Officer Dismissed For Raping 14-Year-Old IDP

 

The Borno State Government has revealed its plans to provide permanent shelters for displaced persons in Bama and Konduga Local Councils of the state.

About 750 families are expected to benefit from the scheme.

According to the governor, Babagana Umara Zulum, the goal is to provide permanent shelters by remodelling the abandoned villages now in ruins.

Meanwhile, in combatting the hunger crisis, caused by the insecurity, the government says it has been distributing food and non-food items to the IDPs.

“In the past, we used to cultivate our farms but now we can’t, because of the problem of Boko Haram,” one of the displaced persons said.

“We can’t go into the bushes we can’t go as far as three kilometers. We need them (government) to help us and solve this Boko Haram problem.”

Details later…

Insurgents Kidnap 14 Persons In Borno

Air Force Officer Dismissed For Raping 14-Year-Old IDP

 

Fourteen people, including two Red Cross workers and an army sergeant, have been kidnapped in Borno State.

According to two security sources, the group was intercepted by fighters from the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) on Wednesday night.

“Terrorists from ISWAP set up a roadblock on a road between Maiduguri and Damaturu yesterday… and took 14 people,” one security source said.

“Among the kidnap victims are an army sergeant and his family and two Red Cross staff who were also taken.”

A second security source confirmed the kidnapping of the soldier and the Red Cross workers.

The two are the latest aid workers snatched by insurgents in the region, where the army has been fighting for about a decade.

ISWAP is a Boko Haram splinter faction that swore allegiance to Islamic State in 2016. It has carried out numerous attacks on civilians.

In a statement, the group claimed that six soldiers and eight civilians, including two Red Cross workers, were among those kidnapped.

A representative of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), contacted by telephone, said the organisation was not able to confirm whether they were employees of the local Red Cross or the ICRC.

They were still making checks on Thursday.

Six Nigerian aid workers — one woman and five men — were seized in July by ISWAP jihadists during an ambush on their convoy close to the border with Niger.

Action Against Hunger (ACF) charity said in September that militants had killed one of the six. But the group did not identify the victim.

ISWAP had previously released a video following the abduction of the female ACF staff member in which she pleaded for the release of the hostages with her, five male colleagues behind her.

The decade-long insurgency in the country has killed 35,000 people and displaced about two million from their homes especially in the northeast region.

Insurgents Flee, Abandon Gun Trucks After Failed Ambush

 

 

The Nigerian Army says it has recorded another success in the ongoing onslaught against Boko Haram insurgents in Borno State, north-east Nigeria.

A statement from the Army Operations Media Coordinator, Colonel Aminu Iliyasu, on Tuesday disclosed that the feat was made by troops of 153 Task Force Battalion deployed at New Marte.

Colonel Iliyasu explained that the soldiers had embarked on fighting patrol to Dikwa to hunt and destroy remnants of Boko Haram criminals in the area in the early hours of Monday.

Incidentally, the troops were said to have encountered an ambush staged against them by the insurgents along the patrol route at Ala Village, some 7km away from New Marte.

READ ALSO: Kaduna Poly Rector Seeks Joint Action Against Kidnappers

 

‘Confused Fighters’

According to the media coordinator, the ambush was reinforced with a crudely prepared Improvised Explosive Device planted against the troops.

He said rather than getting discouraged by the sudden attack on them, the troops turned around the initial setback and dealt a devastating blow on their attackers.

“Having so clearly asserted their superiority in the ensuing firefight, the criminal insurgents were forced to flee in disarray.

“The gallant troops then embarked on a relentless pursuit of the scampering insurgents who abandoned some of their fighting equipment in utter confusion,” Colonel Iliyasu.

He noted that the operation was conducted barely two weeks after some Boko Haram fighters suffered a tactical boomerang when a sizeable number of them were killed and many others injured as they mistakenly stepped on the same improvised explosive device that they had earlier planted against soldiers.

The army media coordinator revealed that at the end of the pursuit and exploitation, two gun trucks, two anti-aircraft guns, and 2,080 rounds of 7.62mm NATO ammunition were recovered by troops.

Other items recovered are 26 rounds of 12.7 mm armor-piercing incendiary ammunition, three AK 47 rifles, six rounds of 12.7 mm (belted), one AOJOE motorcycle, as well as some clothes, foodstuff, and mechanical tools belonging to the insurgents.

Colonel Iliyasu said most of the insurgents were believed to have escaped with varying degrees of gunshot wounds while troops have continued to dominate the area with patrols.

In his reaction, the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, commended the troops for their gallantry, saying the army would accomplish its constitutional mandate professionally and responsively for a secured Nigeria.

He also thanked all well-meaning Nigerians for their support, goodwill, and understanding towards personnel of the force as they tackle the security challenges confronting the nation.

See more photos below:

24 Soldiers, 17 Insurgents Killed In Clashes In Eastern Mali

A file photo of Malian soldiers. AFP photo.

 

 

Twenty-four Malian soldiers and 17 jihadists fighters were killed in clashes in the east of the country, the army said, as security in the West African nation deteriorates further.

Mali and Niger forces were carrying out a joint operation when a patrol was attacked Monday by “terrorists” near the northeastern town of Tabankort, the army said on social media.

According to the military, the total toll was “24 dead, 29 injured and material damage” while 17 of the jihadists were killed and a hundred more suspects captured.

The prisoners are in the hands of Niger soldiers, the statement said.

In an earlier statement, which gave a lower death toll, the army said French and Niger forces took part in a counterattack.

READ ALSOKaduna Poly Rector Seeks Joint Action Against Kidnappers

Monday’s action was another heavy loss for the army, which lost a hundred soldiers in two jihadist attacks in a month in the autumn.

Northern Mali fell into the hands of jihadists in 2012 before the militants were forced out by a French-led military intervention.

Since then, however, the border regions of Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso have become the theatre of repeated clashes with jihadist fighters.

Mali’s army has been struggling to contain the Islamist insurgency despite help from African neighbours, MINUSMA, the 13,000-strong UN peacekeeping mission in Mali, and former colonial power in the region France.

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe in a visit to neighbouring Senegal on Monday called on all west African states to help tackle jihadist groups operating in the Sahel.

“One thing is certain: jihadist groups will benefit, as soon as they can, from our weaknesses, from our lack of coordination or from our lack of commitment or training,” said Philippe, at the opening of the Dakar International Forum on Peace and Security.

French President Emmanuel Macron has pledged to take decisions “in the coming weeks” on how France can help tackle jihadist violence in the Sahel.

He said progress had been made “on the security situation” and decisions would be announced on revamping the G5 regional cooperation force in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger.

France earlier this month also announced their troops had killed a top jihadist leader in Mali, described by the defence ministry as the second most-wanted terrorist in the Sahel.

Moroccan Ali Maychou belonged to the Group to Support Islam and Muslims (GSIM) in Mali, which has claimed responsibility for some of the biggest attacks in the Sahel.

AFP

Many Insurgents Killed, 16 Surrender As Army Loses Two Personnel

 

The Nigerian Army says it has killed many insurgents while 16 others have surrendered during various operations by troops in the North-east within the past one week.

The Operations Media Coordinator of the army, Colonel Aminu Iliyasu, who confirmed this in a statement on Friday regretted that an officer and a soldier paid the supreme price.

He noted that the incremental raids, clearance patrols, sting operations, cordon and search operations, as well as mortar and artillery bombardment of identified insurgents and bandits’ hideouts, yielded tremendous positive outcomes.

The period, according to him, also witnessed the interception and arrest of several Boko Haram logistics suppliers and informants by the troops of Operation Lafiya Dole, as well as the arrest of some bandits and other criminal elements in other parts of the country.

“On November 1, 2019, for instance, 16 insurgents along with eight of their spouses who could no longer bear the heat from the onslaught against them surrendered to the relentless troops of Sector 1, Multinational Joint Task Force at Fotokol,” he said.

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Colonel Iliyasu explained that the surrendered insurgents were later handed over to troops of 3 Battalion at Gamboru Ngala, a border town in the north-eastern zone of the state.

During preliminary interrogation and profiling, the insurgents were said to have confessed to having actively participated in attacks conducted against both military and civilian targets at various times.

Investigation revealed that 14 of them were members of the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) led by Al-Barnawi while the remaining two belonged to the Abubakar Shekau led Boko Haram faction.

The army operations media coordinator said the repentant insurgents regretted their participation in the heinous crimes and called on their former colleagues to surrender to troops.

In a related incident, a Boko Haram member was said to have met his waterloo on Monday in an attempt to cross into the Sambisa Forest at Bama-Banki Road Junction, when troops sighted and killed him.

On the same day, troops of 195 Battalion who were on clearance patrol along Gubio Road recovered a kit bag containing 480 Rounds of 7.62mm NATO ammunition suspected to have been abandoned by escaping terrorists.

Elsewhere, troops deployed at Gajigana in Magumeri LGA of Borno State intercepted some Boko Haram insurgents in the early hours of Tuesday.

The insurgents were suspected to be on their way to attack the community to source for food items and other logistics for survival.

However, they were intercepted by troops who killed three of them while several others escaped with varying degrees of gunshot wounds.

“Unfortunately, one soldier paid the supreme price while two others were wounded in action. The wounded soldiers are currently responding to treatment in a military medical facility,” Iliyasu said.

He added that troops recovered two AK 47 rifles, one Rocket Propelled Gun 7 (RPG 7), five AK 47 magazines, 47 rounds of 7.62mm special ammunition, and some quantities of hard drugs.

The following day, nine Boko Haram insurgents were killed while others escaped with gunshot wounds following an encounter with troops at Muchima in Damboa LGA of Borno.

During the operation, an insurgent gun truck was destroyed while four AK 47 rifles and a cache of ammunition were recovered.

Meanwhile Colonel Iliyasu confirmed the terrorist attack on Damaturu, the Yobe State capital which was reported by Channels Television on Thursday.

He stated that the attack was thwarted by the combined efforts of ground troops, artillery bombardment, and precision air strikes by the Air Task Force of Operation Lafiya Dole.

“The encounter led to the decimation of a number of the insurgents in addition to the destruction of one Boko Haram gun truck. Unfortunately, one officer paid the supreme price during the encounter,” he said.

Part of the statement read:

Outside the North East theatre, troops on Operation MESA continued to increase the momentum of their operations across the nation during the period.

For instance, on 4th November 2019, troops of 1 Division Garrison deployed at Damakasuwa in Kauru LGA of Kaduna State arrested one Mustapha Usman Shehu while driving a Honda salon car with Registration number ABUJA BU 70 RBC along Damakasuwa – Kano Road with a Pump Action gun loaded with two cartridges concealed in the vehicle compartment.

Relatedly, on 5th November 2019 troops of 82 Division, while on a random Stop and Search Operation, arrested a notorious gun runner, Leonard Asogwa in a commercial bus travelling from Onitsha to Jos.

A meticulous search of his baggage revealed two neatly concealed Pump Action guns with 25 live cartridges.

Additionally, troops of 1 Division Garrison, while acting on credible information, conducted a successful Cordon and Search operation at the country home of one Alhaji Shehu Abubakar of Yakawada Town in Giwa LGA of Kaduna State on 5th November 2019.

Items recovered during the operation include one AK 47 Rifle with four rounds of 7.62mm special ammunition, one locally fabricated Revolver with three rounds of 7.62mm NATO and one Pump Action gun with six live cartridges.

Preliminary investigation revealed that the suspect is one of the suppliers of arms and ammunition to kidnappers and bandits terrorising the residents of Kaduna and neighbouring states.

Furthermore, troops of Operation MESA in the North Central in conjunction with elements of Special Forces Bikers conducted clearance operation at Dam 1 and Timchan Villages in Kadarko District, Wase LGA of Plateau State as well as Kurmi Village in Ibi LGA of Taraba State.

During the operations, 10 suspected militias were arrested while troops also recovered 101 Rounds of 7.62mm NATO ammunition, 71 Rounds of 7.62mm special ammunition, one plastic explosive and 36 Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) at the residence of one Shehu Jatau, a notorious militia gang leader, who was earlier arrested in a hotel in Central Area, Abuja.

Additionally, one locally fabricated Rifle and a live cartridge were also recovered at Timchan Village.

In the Niger Delta region, troops of 146 Battalion (Main) in conjunction with personnel of Nigeria Police Finima Division while acting on information, conducted a swift raid operation against some suspected gunmen at Okobi and Conkiri Long John Abalamabie Communities in Bonny LGA of Rivers State.

The raid led to the arrest of one suspect and recovery of seven rounds of 9mm ammunition, a pair of camouflage uniform, one black beret, and wraps of substance suspected to be Cannabis Sativa (Indian hemp).

Insurgents Attack Borno Town As NASS Members Visit State

Air Force Officer Dismissed For Raping 14-Year-Old IDP

 

Suspected members of the Boko Haram terrorist group have attack Gubio Local Government Area of Borno State.

The attack took place on Thursday while a joint committee of the National Assembly on the Army visited the state.

The insurgents had stormed the town in the evening and started shooting sporadically, a situation that threw residents into panic.

Sources at the Theatre Command Headquarters told Channels Television that an enforcement team was quickly deployed in the town by Operation Lafiya Dole to combat the terrorists.

According to them, the Air Component of Lafiya Dole was unable to provide air support on account of “bad weather”.

READ ALSO: Lagos Assembly Threatens To Arrest Ambode, Four Ex-Commissioners

The General Officer Commanding (GOC) 7 Division, Brigadier General Abdul-Khalifa Ibrahim, also confirmed the attack.

He, however, said troops repelled the attack as the military was fully on the ground engaging the predators.

Brigadier General Ibrahim added that details of the operation were sketchy as the clearance operation was ongoing.

Gubio, located some 84 kilometres north of Maiduguri, the capital city of Borno, has been severally targeted by insurgents in recent times.

The latest attack occurred while the Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, Major General Olusegun Adeniyi, Brigadier General Ibrahim, as well as other principal officers of the operation received the National Assembly delegation.

The lawmakers led by chairmen of the committees in both Senate and House of Representatives chambers, Senator Ali Ndume and Honorable Abdulrazak Namdas, had received a guided tour of some military locations before a meeting at the headquarters of the Theatre Command.

At the meeting, the Theatre Commander demanded a functional embedded Army Aviation Wing and helicopters.

He was confident that if such was provided, the Boko Haram war would end “in less than three months.”

Major General Adeniyi also told the committee that only a militarised aviation can provide the required firepower for ground troops to launch offensive attacks in the enemy’s territories.

25 Soldiers Killed, 60 Missing In Mali Jihadist Attacks

 

Malian troops backed by foreign allies on Wednesday launched a hunt for scores of comrades listed as missing after one of the deadliest attacks in a seven-year-old jihadist insurgency.

At least 25 troops were killed after militants aboard heavily-armed vehicles raided two military camps at Boulkessy and Mondoro near the border with Burkina Faso, according to a provisional toll.

Fifteen jihadists, according to government figures, were killed in the raids, which began early Monday and were quelled more than a day later.

But around 60 soldiers are listed as missing — 78, according to a security source — with no details as to whether they have been killed or captured.

“Operations to secure the area are under way with Mali’s partners,” a Malian military source said.

“Our objective is to consolidate our presence in Boulkessy and to focus on soldiers of whom we are currently without news.”

Hundreds of angry youths and wives of soldiers demonstrated outside a military camp in the capital Bamako late Wednesday.

Some demonstrators burned tyres to block off the avenue.

“We came here because the government is not telling the truth about the number of dead,” a woman demonstrator told AFP.

“It’s our husbands, the red berets, who are at Boulkessy.”

“My father is a soldier, he’s at Boulkessy, and I haven’t any news of him,” said 15-year-old Ali Oumar Diakite. “They’re lying to us. The army is under-equipped.”

Blow

The losses are a crushing blow to Mali’s armed forces, which are flailing in the face of a jihadist revolt that has spread from the arid north to its centre, an ethnically mixed and volatile region.

The operation is also a humiliation for the so-called G5 Sahel force — a much-trumpeted initiative under which five countries decided to create a joint 5,000-man anti-terror force — and for France, which is committed to shoring up the fragile region.

The losses symbolise “the escalating activities of violent extremist groups (in the Sahel) with more and more ambitious targets,” said Baba Dakono of the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), a think tank based in Senegal.

Only 13 soldiers emerged unscathed from the attacks, which were eventually subdued with the help of Malian special forces and foreign allies, including French warplanes.

The jihadists also made off with a large quantity of arms, ammunition and equipment — local media say about 20 vehicles were captured, including some mounted with machine-guns.

According to an army report seen by AFP, two army helicopters and about a dozen vehicles were burned in the attack on Boulkessy.

The camp there — which housed a Malian battalion that was part of the G5 Sahel — was destroyed.

The G5 Sahel secretariat said the assailants were members of Ansarul Islam, a jihadist group accused of multiple attacks in northern Burkina Faso.

Other sources were unable to confirm this.

Fragile Centre

Jihadists lost control of northern Mali after French military intervention, but regrouped to carry out hit-and-run raids and roadmine attacks — classic tactics by a mobile guerrilla force.

They have also moved on to the country’s central region, where they have inflamed long-standing resentments between ethnic groups, analysts say.

On March 17, the Malian army lost nearly 30 men in an attack on a camp in Dioura, also in the troubled central region.

That assault came on the heels of a massacre of 160 Fulani (also called Peul) villagers — a bloodbath that led to a military reshuffle and the government’s resignation.

UN chief Antonio Guterres has been pounding the drum for help for Sahel states, among the poorest in the world, in their struggle against the mobile, well-armed and ruthless jihadists.

On September 14, the West African regional group ECOWAS announced a billion-dollar plan to help fund the military operations of the nations involved. Full details will be presented at a summit in December.