President Muhammadu Buhari has promised to continually frustrate the goal of terrorists to hold Nigeria to ransom, insisting that their days are numbered.
President Buhari in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, on Monday, condemned the “murderous and cowardly attack on innocent passengers by the Boko Haram terrorists near Maiduguri.”
The insurgents attacked stranded passengers on Sunday night at Auno, a village near Maiduguri, the Borno state capital, killing 10 people and burnt no fewer than 18 cars, including heavy-duty trucks.
Mba also noted that the suspects are already assisting police investigators with useful information relating to the membership spread and make-up, criminal/operational records, logistics and general modus operandi of the terror group.
He also noted that preliminary investigation revealed that the arrested suspects were actively involved in the recent attack and attempted kidnap of the Emir of Potiskum that resulted in the gruesome killing of the Emir’s Police escorts.
According to the Force PRO, they were also involved in several other kidnap operations and terror attacks on commuters and other innocent citizens along some major highways, especially in the North-West and North Central States of the country.
Meanwhile, Mba noted that the investigation also revealed that some citizens, especially those within the business community, give tacit support to the terror groups by deliberately doing businesses with them through the supply of essential goods, drugs (licit/illicit) and other services.
He, therefore, noted that the IGP calls for patriotism amongst the people, noting that that is the only way the fight against the criminal elements can truly be won.
The IGP has also thanked other members of public for their understanding, cooperation and support which according to him, have resulted in the measure of successes recorded so far particularly in the fight against terrorism, banditry and other heinous crimes in the country.
The police say they have lost two officers involved in a raid on a camp hosting members of the Ansaru terrorist group in Kaduna State.
The Deputy Inspector-General of Police (DIG) in charge of Operations, Abdulmajid Ali, disclosed this on Friday two days after the security operatives battled the terrorists.
Ali, who revealed that 12 others suffered critical injuries, said they were already receiving treatment at different hospitals in the Kaduna State capital.
Speaking during a visit to one of the medical facilities, the DIG was pleased that the injured officers were stable and responding to treatment.
He stressed that not even the casualty on the side of the police would deter the force from crushing the bandits from their hideouts in all parts of the country.
According to the DIG, the Force is currently executing about 50 operations in the North-West and North-Central regions of Nigeria.
He explained that the operations were aimed at flushing out members of the terrorist group and other criminal elements from their camps.
Chopper Shot Down?
On Wednesday, the Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba, said the police “successfully neutralised over 250 high-profile members.”
He noted that the operation was carried out following actionable intelligence linking terror and criminal elements in the camp to a series of terror-related violence, kidnappings, gun-running, cattle rustling, and other heinous crimes in the country.
Mba had confirmed that the bandits attacked a police bell helicopter, which provided aerial and intelligence cover for the ground troops, using sophisticated anti-aircraft rifles and GPMG.
Amid the reports that the aircraft was shot down by the bandits, the police spokesman said, “Commendably, the pilot and the co-pilot who demonstrated uncommon courage and expertise, successfully landed the aircraft at the Nigerian Air Force Base, Kaduna without further incident.”
He, however, admitted that the two officers were injured but not “non-life-threatening” ones.
Although the police did not disclose the identities of the slain officers, it is unclear if any of the injured pilots is among those who lost their lives.
The Department of State Services (DSS) has dismissed reports circulating all over social media regarding a purported message by the Service aimed at alerting the public about the movement of terrorists into the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and other parts of the country.
In a statement by its spokesman, Dr Peter Afunanya, the DSS also refuted reports that luxury buses of three major transport companies were hijacked on the Lokoja-Okene Road by persons suspected to be championing an ethnic agenda.
The DSS said the alert purportedly issued by the Service on the arrival of Boko Haram and other terrorist elements to the aforementioned places has been in circulation since 2013 when it was first created by mischief makers whose handiwork is to cause chaos.
Dr Afunanya noted that the reports concerning alleged attack on the luxury buses conveying a particular ethnic group to their local base were first created some years back to deceive and incite unsuspecting persons.
The public was urged to disregard the fallacious narratives and reports in their entirety, as fake news that they are.
“DSS wishes to dismiss them as non-existent and therefore describe them as a figment of the imagination of their creators. The illusive stories are merely designed by some zealots to instigate ethnoreligious and political crises of violent and destructive dimensions across the country.
“It has, however, become obvious that the main aim of engaging in these undesirable actions is to also undermine national security for the achievement of some ulterior goals.
“The Service frowned at the continuous exploitation of social, religious and tribal differences by purveyors of doom to ignite extreme violent actions among the populace.
“While security and law enforcement agencies are totally committed to sustaining maximum efforts in ensuring public safety in the Nation, citizens are enjoined to disregard these deceitful reports that do not emanate from the Service and go about their normal businesses.
“Considering that security is a collective responsibility of all and sundry, everyone is advised to be more committed in this regard and report suspicious persons to relevant security agencies nearest to them,” the statement read in part.
Meanwhile, the Service said it will continue to collaborate with sister agencies to ensure adequate protection for the people, government and critical infrastructure.
The DSS further noted that it will also not fail to make defaulters face, within the ambit of the law, consequences of their illicit activities.
A Police Bell helicopter was attacked on Wednesday when men of the Nigeria Police Force attacked and killed terrorists and bandits during an early morning operation in Kaduna State.
Police say that over 250 terrorists and bandits were killed as tactical forces stormed Ansaru Terrorists’ Camp.
According to Police Spokesman, DCP Frank Mba, the helicopter, which provided aerial and intelligence cover for the ground troops came under attack from the bandits using sophisticated anti-aircraft rifles and GPMG.
Mr Frank Mba however, noted that the pilot and co-pilot who demonstrated uncommon courage and expertise successfully landed the aircraft at the Air Force Base in Kaduna without further incident.
The police image-maker further revealed that the two officials were thereafter evacuated for medical treatment, adding that both officers who sustained non-life threatening injuries are currently receiving treatment and are in stable condition.
He also stated that the police helicopter has since been flown out of the Kaduna Air Force Base by Police Pilots en-route to Abuja.
On Wednesday, Special Operatives of Operation Puff Adder of the Nigeria Police backed by the Special Forces of the Police Airwing, in a daring offensive operation, stormed one of the largest operational camps of the Ansaru Terror Group (also housing other bandits and kidnappers) located in Kuduru Forest, Birnin Gwari, Kaduna State.
The security operatives successfully neutralized over 250 high-profile members of the Ansaru Terror Group, police authorities claim.
According to the Force, the operation was necessitated by actionable intelligence linking terror and criminal elements in the super camp to series of terror-related violence, kidnappings, gun-running, cattle rustling and other heinous crimes across the country.
Reacting to Wednesday’s operation, the Inspector General of Police assured citizens of safety and sustained intelligence-led operations against bandits across the length and breadth of the nation.
He equally applauded the unparalleled bravery, commitment, and dedication of the Police operatives currently conducting the special mission.
The Nigeria Police Force says it has killed many terrorists and bandits during an early morning operation in Kaduna State.
In a statement on Wednesday, the Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba, revealed that the operation was carried out by a combined team of operatives of Operation Puff Adder.
They comprise operatives of the Police Mobile Force (PMF), Counter Terrorism Unit (CTU), Special Forces, Intelligence Response Team (IRT), Special Tactical Squad (STS), and Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
“Special operatives of Operation Puff Adder of the Nigeria Police backed by the Special Forces of the Police Airwing, in a daring offensive operation, stormed one of the largest operational camps of the Ansaru Terror Group (also housing other bandits and kidnappers) located in Kuduru Forest, Birnin Gwari, Kaduna State and successfully neutralised over 250 high-profile members of the Ansaru Terror Group,” Mba said.
He explained that the operation was necessitated by actionable intelligence linking terror and criminal elements in the camp to a series of terror-related violence, kidnappings, gun-running, cattle rustling, and other heinous crimes in the country.
Unfortunately, the police spokesman regretted that a police bell helicopter, which provided aerial and intelligence cover for the ground troops, came under attack during the operation.
According to him, the bandits attacked the aircraft using sophisticated anti-aircraft rifles and GPMG.
“Commendably, the pilot and the co-pilot who demonstrated uncommon courage and expertise, successfully landed the aircraft at the Nigerian Air Force Base, Kaduna without further incident,” Mba said.
He added, “They were, thereafter, evacuated for medical treatment. Both officers who sustained non-life-threatening injuries are currently receiving treatment and are in stable condition.
The Force public relations officer said the helicopter has since been flown out of the Kaduna Air Force Base by police pilots en-route to Abuja.
In his reaction, the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, applauded the bravery, commitment, and dedication of the police operatives conducting the special mission.
He also assured Nigerians of their safety and sustained intelligence-led operations against bandits across the length and breadth of the nation.
Fifteen members of Mali’s security forces died in a jihadist assault on Sunday at a camp in the center of the country, military and local sources said.
“At least 15 Malian military were killed Sunday in the Sokolo military camp during an attack by terrorists,” a Malian military source told AFP.
A local lawmaker said all those killed were gendarmes, or paramilitary police officers, adding that he saw “two other bodies outside the camp.”
“The terrorists arrived on motorcycles,” said the official, who asked not to be named for security reasons.
“They were well-armed. They entered the Sokolo camp. They took away a lot of material”, he said, adding that other officers were able to leave the camp.
“It was complete chaos,” said a local humanitarian source who managed to enter the camp after the suspected jihadists had left.
“In the camp, we counted 15 military bodies. All the military material had been taken. It looked like the attackers knew what they were doing,” the source said.
Sokolo is located in the central Segou region where jihadist groups linked to Al-Qaeda are known to operate.
Mali has been struggling to contain an Islamist insurgency that erupted in the north in 2012 and has claimed thousands of military and civilian lives since.
Mali announced Wednesday it would hold legislative elections in late March after repeated postponements prompted by insecurity and political infighting.
Holding the elections was a key recommendation from crisis talks in December aimed at exploring non-military solutions to the worsening violence.
Despite some 4,500 French troops in the Sahel region, plus a 13,000-strong UN peacekeeping force in Mali, the conflict has engulfed the center of the country and spread to neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger.
Four civilians including a child were shot dead on Tuesday as suspected Al-Shabaab Islamists attempted to attack a telecommunications mast in eastern Kenya near the Somali border, police said.
Two of the attackers were also killed by police.
Kenya is on high alert after the Al-Qaeda linked group on Sunday stormed onto a US military base in the coastal Lamu region, destroying several aircraft and killing three American citizens.
Three Kenyans were arrested later Sunday for allegedly trying to force their way into a British military camp in central Kenya, although the British army later said in a statement they did not believe there was a “direct threat”.
Police spokesman Charles Owino said that more than 10 attackers had attempted to destroy the mast on Tuesday morning, two of whom were shot dead.
A separate police statement said the attack took place in the town of Saretho, 25 kilometres (15 miles) from the Dadaab Refugee Camp — where Al-Shabaab has been found to be operating in the past.
“The criminal gang had targeted the nearby communication mast and in the process four innocent lives were lost, including that of a teacher and small child,” read the statement.
Police said two AK47 assault rifles, materials to make improvised explosive devices and other “crude weapons” were discovered.
“Security agencies have been mobilised and are pursuing the rest of the attackers.”
The Islamists began targeting Kenya after it sent troops into Somalia in 2011 to join an African Union peacekeeping force seeking to combat the militants who have been trying to topple an internationally-backed government in Mogadishu for over a decade.
Al-Shabaab has in the past carried out bloody sieges against civilians in Kenya, such as the upmarket Westgate Mall in 2013 and Garissa University in 2015.
The uptick in tensions comes just days before the one-year anniversary of an attack on a Nairobi hotel complex which left 21 people dead.
The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) says it has killed scores of Boko Haram terrorists in airstrikes in the Sambisa Forest area of Borno State.
NAF’s Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, disclosed this in a statement forwarded to Channels Television on Saturday.
He noted that the Air Task Force (ATF) of Operation Lafiya Dole recorded the success near Bula Bello on January 1, 2020.
Daramola explained that a NAF Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft was returning from a mission before the onslaught.
He said the jet spotted a gun truck of the insurgents under a tree with scores of Boko Haram fighters gathered around the tree on the outskirts of the settlement, purportedly preparing for an attack against nearby troops’ positions.
According to the air commodore, some of the insurgents were also seen in a declassified short video clip pushing another vehicle to a location under another tree in the area.
He revealed that the ATF subsequently scrambled its attack aircraft to engage the location, neutralising some of the terrorists in the process.
“Follow-on attacks were also carried out to take out some locations within Bula Bello where the BHTs were tracked to.
“The jets took turns attacking the target area killing more of the BHTs and destroying some of their structures,” the statement said.
The NAF spokesman stressed that the air force would sustain its efforts to completely destroy all remnants of the terrorists in the North East, working in concert with surface forces.
The United States military said it killed four “terrorists” in airstrikes against the Al-Shabaab militant group in Somalia on Sunday, a day after the country’s deadliest attack in two years.
US Africa Command (AFRICOM) conducted three airstrikes in two locations in the conflict-hit east African nation on Sunday targeting Al-Shabaab militants, it said in a statement.
“These precision airstrikes targeted Al-Shabaab militants responsible for terrorist acts against innocent Somali citizens and coordinating with Al-Qaeda,” AFRICOM said.
“The US and the federal government of Somalia will continue to increase pressure on the terrorist organisation in order to deny them the ability to plot terrorist attacks.”
Sunday’s strikes killed two militants and destroyed two vehicles in Qunyo Barrow while a separate strike killed another two in Caliyoow Barrow, according to AFRICOM, which regularly carries out airstrikes in Somalia.
They followed a massive car bomb explosion in a busy area of Mogadishu on Saturday that left at least 79 people dead and scores injured.
At least 16 of those killed were students from the capital’s private Banadir University, who had been traveling on a bus when the car bomb detonated at a busy intersection southwest of the Somali capital.
Scores of wounded were carried on stretchers from the site, where the force of the explosion left the charred and twisted remains of vehicles.
Two Turkish nationals were also killed, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said.
The attack has not been claimed, but Mogadishu is regularly hit by car bombings and attacks waged by the Al-Shabaab Islamist militants, who have fought for more than a decade to topple the Somali government.
– Guerrilla war –
The militant group emerged from the Islamic Courts Union, which once controlled central and southern Somalia, and is variously estimated to number between 5,000 and 9,000 men.
In 2010, the Shabaab declared their allegiance to Al-Qaeda.
The following year, its fighters fled positions they once held in the capital Mogadishu, and have since lost many strongholds.
But they retain control of large rural swathes of the country and continue to wage a guerrilla war against the authorities, managing to inflict bloody death tolls in attacks at home and abroad.
“Since Al-Shabaab’s first external attack in 2010, the group has ruthlessly killed hundreds,” said US Army Major General William Gayler, AFRICOM’s director of operations.
“They have attacked and killed African partners, allies, and fellow Americans.”
Since 2015, there have been 13 attacks in Somalia with death tolls above 20. Eleven of these have been in Mogadishu, according to a tally of AFP figures.
All of them involved car bombs.
The deadliest attack in the country’s history was a truck bombing in October 2017 in Mogadishu which left 512 people dead and around 295 injured.
US strikes in Somalia surged after President Donald Trump declared the south of the country an “area of active hostilities.”
The rate of airstrikes has risen sharply this year, and in an April statement, AFRICOM said it had killed more than 800 people in 110 strikes in Somalia since April 2017.
AFRICOM, which has been accused by Amnesty International of killing several civilians in its airstrikes, said no civilians appeared to have been killed or wounded in its Sunday strike.
President Muhammadu Buhari has appealed to Nigerians not to let terrorists divide the country along religious lines, following the execution of some Christians and Muslims by the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP).
President Buhari said: “I am profoundly saddened and shocked by the death of innocent hostages in the hands of remorseless, godless, callous gangs of mass murderers that have given Islam a bad name through their atrocities
“We should, under no circumstance, let the terrorists divide us by turning Christians against Muslims because these barbaric killers don’t represent Islam and millions of other law-abiding Muslims around the world.
“As a President, the collective security of all Nigerians is my major preoccupation and the death of an innocent Christian or Muslim distresses me.’’
The President said the terrorists have no clearly defined agenda except the pursuit of evil through indiscriminate murder of innocent people, contrary to the teachings of Islam, which prohibits massacre.
“No true Muslim would be shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ while killing innocent people, an evil frequently condemned by the Holy Qur’an.’’
“These agents of darkness are enemies of our common humanity and they don’t spare any victim, whether they are Muslims or Christians, and therefore, we shouldn’t let them divide us and turn us against one another.
“The goal of these psychopaths is to cause confusion and spread distrust between Muslims and Christians, despite the fact that they aren’t representing the interest of Muslims or Islam.
“While I condemn this evil, I wish to reassure Nigerians that this administration will not lower its guards in the war against terrorism, and we will continue to intensify our efforts towards strengthening international cooperation and collaboration to break the backbone of these evildoers,’’ the President added.
President Buhari called on all Nigerians to be united against terrorists and avoid unhelpful conspiracy theories that serve the interest of Boko Haram terrorists and ISWAP.