Air Force bombs Sambisa forest, dislodges B’Haram
Chadian troops kill 117 insurgents, reclaim Dikwa
Jonathan promises to rout sect, inaugurates naval ships
Air force jets yesterday bombarded Sambisa forest hideout of the Boko Haram insurgents as well as Gwoza town, all in Borno State.
The bombardment inflicted heavy casualties on the terrorists, with many of them dislodged.
The bombings have been confirmed by the Defence Headquarters, DHQ.
DHQ, in a statement issued in Abuja, through the Director of Defence Information, DDI, Maj-Gen. Chris Olukolade, said that the training camps and logistics dumps of the sect, which were primary targets of the operations, were destroyed.
“A concerted air campaign by the Nigerian Air Force is ongoing in furtherance of the mission to clear terrorists from all their enclaves.
“The air strikes, which today (yesterday), targeted the training camps and logistics dumps of the terrorists in Sambisa forests and parts of Gwoza have been highly successful as it achieved the aims with required precision.
“The death of a large number of terrorists has been recorded while many others are also scampering all over the forest and out of the struck bases,” the DHQ said.
It said the strikes were continuing in other locations of the theatre heralding the advance of troops and other elements of the mission.
Sambisa forest and Gwoza had remained the two strongholds of the terrorists group.
The insurgents finally took over Gwoza last year and declared its Islamists Caliphate Republic, where they claimed that Sharia was being practised unhindered.
Since that declaration, it has been very difficult for troops to penetrate, but the DHQ has given the hope of its readiness to advance given the air strikes.
In the same vein, the DHQ has indicated that the Sambisa forest, which was virtually very difficult to penetrate, is also ready for final onslaught by troops.
Ina related development, hundreds of Chadian troops who were battling the insurgents to retake Dikwa, also in Borno State since Tuesday, yesterday successfully made headway, killing 117 terrorists with the arrest of the Amir (Commander) of the sect.
Dikwa, the headquarters of old Kanem Bornu Empire, was taken over by Boko Haram some months ago, forcing the first class monarch and thousands of his subjects to take refuge in Maiduguri.
A source stated that the recapture of the town took place at about 7am after Chadian troops cleared Gamboru, Ngala, Kala Balge and several villages off Boko Haram insurgents.
The troops, thereafter, proceeded to Dikwa, which is less than 100 kilometers northeast of Maiduguri, the state capital.
The source added that the raid which comprised of airstrikes with a back up ground troops inflicted severe casualties on the terrorists, which led to the recapture of the town.
The source also revealed that during the encounter, two Chadian soldiers lost their lives, while the Amir (Commander) of the sect was arrested at the palace of the Shehu of Dikwa, which was being used as the headquarters of the insurgents.
“The terrorists had established themselves in Dikwa after taking over all the prominent buildings, including the Shehu’s palace, local government Secretariat as well as the official and private residences of prominent people,” he said.
Residents, who escaped from the fighting also confirmed that the terrorists suffered heavy casualties during the encounter.
“Chadian soldiers took over Dikwa from Boko Haram after heavy fighting on Tuesday,” Bababura Diwa, who lives in the town, said by telephone from Fotokol, across the border in northern Cameroun.
Diwa said the Chadians came from Gamboru, which they previously recaptured, with heavy artillery power and overpowered a group of militants at Lomani village, 15 kilometres from Dikwa.
“When they came into Dikwa there was intense fighting but at last they subdued the Boko Haram fighters.
“They killed many of them, including Abu Ashshe, their commander who was notorious for seizing cattle in the area.
“I used the opportunity provided by the presence of the Chadian troops to leave the town. I was afraid to leave when Boko Haram took over for fear of being branded a traitor and killed,” he said.
Diwa’s account was backed up by several other residents, who took advantage of the Chadian advance to flee the ancient town, which is near the Sambisa Forest.
Jidda Saleh, another resident, said Chadian troops launched heavy aerial and ground attacks on the Kala-Balge area, particularly on Nduwu village, which he said was a “major Boko Haram stronghold.”
“The whole village was bombarded and it is obvious Boko Haram suffered heavy casualties from the aerial attack. Ground troops moved in later,” he added.
“Meleri, which has a huge Boko Haram concentration, was also bombed by Chadian military jets and then taken over by ground troops.
“By the time we left we learnt the Chadian soldiers were on their way to Kushimori village where Boko Haram keep the livestock they seize from people.
“They have kept thousands of livestock there. They sunk boreholes and recruited people to rear the animals for them,” he added.
Algoni Wal-Amire, another Kala-Balge resident, welcomed the offensive.
“Living under Boko Haram was like living in a minefield. You are always afraid your next step could be your last. I thank God I’m now safe from them,” he said.
Meanwhile, President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday in Lagos assured Nigerians of routing the sect as he inaugurated four Nigerian Navy Ships, NNS.
“Let me use this platform to promise my country men and women that we will rout Boko Haram,” Jonathan said at the Naval Dockyard Ltd in Victoria Island venue of the inauguration.
“Our capacity has increased sufficiently and our officers and men are doing wonderfully well in the north and we must conduct our elections as scheduled by INEC.