Troops of 130 Battalion have killed at least 20 members of the Boko Haram sect and Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWAP) in a fierce encounter at the north-western part of Baga town in Borno State.
The Coordinator of Defence Media Operations, Major General John Enenche, confirmed the number of terrorists killed in a statement on Sunday.
He noted the troops conducted the decisive intercept offensive operation with the support of the Nigerian Army Super Camp in Baga.
Enenche explained that the insurgents who were armed with mortars, rocket-propelled grenades, and small weapons were on their way to attack villages surrounding Baga before the gunfight took place.
“The troops attacked their convoy with overwhelming firepower, killing 20 BHT/ISWAP criminals, captured six AK 47 rifles, 520 rounds of 7.62mm special ammunition, and five 36 hand grenades.
“However, nine of our gallant soldiers were wounded in action with no loss of life. They were evacuated to Sector 3 hospital for treatment,” he stated.
According to the military spokesman, the Chief of Army Staff commends the soldiers for their professionalism and directs them to remain resolute towards eradicating the criminals from the North East.
The Defence Headquarters (DHQ) has confirmed the killing of at least 47 soldiers by members of the Boko Haram terrorist group in Borno State.
The Director of Defence Information, Major General John Enenche, disclosed this during a session with reporters on Tuesday in Abuja.
Giving an update on the military operations across the country, he noted that Nigeria was in a fluid conflict situation while the troops were at the frontlines.
Enenche explained that troops of Operation Lafiya Dole were on clearance and fighting patrol operation to Gorgi in Borno between March 21 and 23.
“During consolidation, they (the troops) were ambushed by elements of Boko Haram terrorists. Sadly, we suffered some casualties in the unfortunate attack,” he said.
The DHQ spokesman, however, revealed that the Air Component of Operation Lafiya Dole scrambled immediately to the scene and provided close air support to the ground troops.
He added that the Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) platform, as well as the fighter jets engaged the insurgents, killing some of the terrorists and immobilising a gun truck belonging to them.
“Some others (terrorists) who attempted to withdraw were also mopped up by the jets in follow-on attacks.
“The Defence Headquarters commiserate with the families of our fallen gallant heroes who paid the supreme price in the course of defending our fatherland,” Enenche said.
He assured Nigerians that the military and other security agencies would continue to sustain the offensive against the enemies of the nation.
The military spokesman added that this would be done in furtherance of the objective of restoring peace and security in the North East and other parts of the country.
Contrary to the figures stated by the DHQ, reports say at least 70 soldiers were killed in the ambush on the security operatives’ convoy.
The insurgents reportedly fired rocket-propelled grenades at a lorry conveying the troops as it travelled near Gorgi village on Monday.
The Nigerian Army has described a purported viral video in which some men held hostage in an open field were executed as false.
In a statement on Thursday, the acting Director of Army Public Relations, Colonel Sagir Musa, stressed that the video was doctored.
He said, “The attention of the Nigerian Army has been drawn to a viral, unsubstantiated and apparently fabricated video clip circulating on the social media portraying the stage-managed/so-called capture and killing of some Nigerian soldiers by Boko Haram terrorists on the 10th of December 2019.
“The Nigerian Army wishes to emphatically state that there was no incident that involved the ‘capture and killing of tens and tens of Nigerian soldiers on the 10th of December 2019’ as mischievously and wickedly portrayed in the video.”
Although, Preliminary observation of the clip, according to Musa, revealed that it was doctored and that the entire event captured in the footage was not an occurrence that took place at any point in time within the shores of the country.
“To this end, the Nigerian Army is hereby calling on the members of the general public and indeed personnel of the Nigerian Army, especially those in the North East theatre of operation to disregard the sinister,” he added.
The army spokesman who insisted that the video was inciting and divisive, attributed its origin to the outlawed indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) group.
He condemned the call by one Simon Ekpa who he purported to be the principal actor in the clip that soldiers of the South East extraction presently serving in the North East should desert the army and return to Biafra.
According to him, the call on the people of the South East not to join the Nigerian Army is an obvious indication of the essence and objective of the masterminds of the video which should be discountenanced by the public.
Colonel Musa insisted that army remains committed to sustaining the war against terrorism and would not be deterred by any propagandist activity.
The black boxes from two French military helicopters that collided in Mali killing 13 soldiers have been found, a French military spokesman said Wednesday.
The crash occurred late Monday during an operation against jihadists in the Liptako region, near the borders with Burkina Faso and Niger. It was the heaviest single loss for the French military in nearly four decades.
“The two black boxes from the helicopters have been recovered, they will be handed over to the relevant authorities to be analysed,” the spokesman, Colonel Frederic Barbry, told BFMTV.
Three helicopters and a squadron of Mirage jets had arrived on Monday to support ground troops pursuing Islamist extremists.
Shortly after troops engaged the insurgents, who fled on motorbikes and in a pickup truck, a Tiger attack helicopter collided with a Cougar military transport helicopter.
All 13 aboard the two aircraft were killed.
French Defence Minister Florence Parly arrived along with top military brass at the Barkhane base in Gao on Wednesday afternoon to pay homage to the dead soldiers ahead of their repatriation to France.
The chief of staff of the French armed forces, General Francois Lecointre, and the army chief of staff, Thierry Burkhard, accompanied Parly on the trip.
Parly will address the soldiers at the base to convey “the nation’s sadness, recognition and determination”, the defence ministry said in a statement.
The minister was greeted by Barkhane Force commander General Pascal Facon and her Malian counterpart, General Dahirou Dembele.
The soldiers’ bodies will be repatriated to France where President Emmanuel Macron will lead commemorations at Invalides military hospital and museum in Paris on Monday.
Barbry said no theory as to the cause of the crash had been ruled out.
The conditions for flying at the time of the crash were “extremely difficult” because it was a moonless night, the spokesman said.
The accident brought to 41 the number of French troops killed in the Sahel region since Paris intervened against jihadists in northern Mali in 2013.
Since then, armed groups affiliated with the Islamic State group, Al-Qaeda and others have advanced into southern Mali as well as into neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger.
No ‘definitive’ victory possible
Lecointre warned earlier Wednesday against expecting total victory over insurgents roaming an area the size of Western Europe.
“We will never achieve a definitive victory,” he told France Inter radio, while insisting that France’s intervention was “useful, good and necessary”.
“We are producing results but we must be patient and persevere,” he said, adding that a lasting solution to the unrest in the region required “military action but also action on the development front.”
France has 4,500 troops deployed under Operation Barkhane to help local forces hunt jihadists in Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger.
It had been hoping that a joint counter-terrorism force set up by the five African countries would gradually take over the operations.
But the G5 Sahel force has been hamstrung by a lack of manpower, funds, training and weaponry.
The UN peacekeeping mission in Mali MINUSMA and regional armies, meanwhile, have also suffered heavy losses in the unrest.
In some of the deadliest incidents, 43 Malian soldiers were killed in an attack in the east of the country in mid-November while Burkina Faso lost 24 troops in an assault on a base near the Malian border in August.
Despite the challenges and the growing hostility towards French troops in Mali and Burkina Faso, both former colonies, Macron’s government is adamant it has no plans to scale back operations.
France has presented the battle against the jihadists operating on Europe’s doorstep as a battle for the security both of Africa and Europe.
Former president Francois Hollande, who took the decision to intervene in Mali in 2013, on Wednesday said he stood by his decision.
“If there had not been the operation which I launched on January 11, 2013, all of Mali would have been occupied by Islamist terrorists, and not just Mali. All of West Africa would have be destabilised,” he said.
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.
The candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr Duoye Diri, has faulted the outcome of the governorship election in Bayelsa State.
Diri, who addressed a news conference on Sunday, accused the Nigerian Army of intimidating agents and supporters of the PDP in Ogbia Local Government Area (LGA) of the state.
“The Nigerian Army is in Ogbia chasing away all PDP agents and all PDP key stakeholders from Ogbia, arresting most of our stakeholders; arresting all key stakeholders in Ogbia and as we speak, the Nigerian Army is there in Ogbia,” he told reporters while the collation of results from the eight LGAs in the state was ongoing at the office of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Yenagoa.
The PDP candidate added, “We want to use this opportunity to call on the soldiers who are in Ogbia to immediately withdraw from Ogbia Local Government Area.”
Two Malian soldiers were killed and another six injured when their armoured vehicle hit an improvised explosive device, the army said Sunday.
“A vehicle of the Malian armed forces hit an improvised explosive device” near the central town of Bandiagara, the military said in a tweet.
It was the latest in a string of attacks underscoring the fragility of an area straddling several West African countries which is battling a surge in jihadist violence that has claimed hundreds of lives.
An attack on a military base on Friday left 49 Malian soldiers dead in the eastern Menaka region near the border with Niger.
On Saturday, a French soldier died in the same region after his armoured vehicle struck an improvised explosive device.
The Islamic State group on Saturday claimed responsibility for both attacks.
A “terrorist attack” on a military post in strife-torn northeastern Mali has left 49 soldiers dead, the army said Saturday, revising downward an earlier death toll.
The assault on Friday at Indelimane, in the Menaka region, close to the border with Niger, was one of the deadliest strikes against Mali’s military in a region wracked by Islamist violence.
The Malian Armed Forces (FAMa) “have recorded 49 dead, three wounded and material damage, and some 20 survivors have been recovered,” it said on its Facebook page on Saturday.
“The situation is under FAMa control.”
The government on Friday had said 53 people died in what it described as a “terrorist attack.”
No group immediately claimed responsibility.
An army officer said troops arrived at the outpost around 5pm on Friday and “took back control of our positions.
“The terrorists carried out a surprise attack at lunchtime. Army vehicles were destroyed, others taken away,” he told AFP.
The army and the government announced Friday that reinforcements were sent to the area.
The attacks comes a month after two jihadist assaults killed 40 soldiers near the border with Burkina Faso. However several sources said the death toll had been underestimated.
Mali’s army has been struggling in the face of a jihadist revolt that has spread from the arid north to its centre, an ethnically mixed and volatile region.
The recent assaults are also a humiliation for the so-called G5 Sahel force — a much-trumpeted initiative under which five countries created a joint 5,000-man anti-terror force — and for France, which is committed to shoring up the fragile region.
Northern Mali came under the control of Al-Qaeda linked jihadists after Mali’s army failed to quash a rebellion there in 2012.
A French-led military campaign was launched against the jihadists, pushing them back a year later.
But the jihadists have regrouped and widened their hit-and-run raids and landmine attacks to central and southern Mali.
The violence has also spilled over into Burkina Faso and Niger where extremists have exploited existing inter-communal strife, leaving hundreds dead.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for Friday’s assault.
The Malian government earlier condemned the “terrorist attack,” saying it had left numerous dead or wounded but without giving a precise toll.
It said reinforcements had been rushed to the area to boost security and track down the attackers.
Northern Mali came under the control of Al-Qaeda linked jihadists after Mali’s army failed to quash a rebellion there in 2012. A French-led military campaign was launched against the jihadists, pushing them back a year later.
But the jihadists have regrouped and widened their hit-and-run raids and landmine attacks to central and southern Mali.
The violence has also spilt over into Burkina Faso and Niger where militants have exploited existing inter-communal strife.