NAF uncovers more ISWAP camps, many soldiers still missing
The Islamic State West African Province fighters, a faction of the Boko Haram insurgents, are setting up more camps and hidden settlements in the Sambisa Forest and other areas around the Lake Chad in Borno State, some of which have been uncovered and destroyed by the Nigerian Air Force.
NAF said on Saturday that the two hideouts were uncovered in by its Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance platforms.
It was leant that despite the military onslaughts, the insurgents were regrouping and hiding in thick forests because of the rough terrain and rainy weather conditions as well as the alleged presence of informants among the soldiers.
The ISWAP terrorists had reportedly erected camps also in the Cameroonian, Chadian and Nigerien territories, where they largely trained fighters and sent them out on routine attacks on military bases and communities.
NAF said it discovered two of the ISWAP hideouts in the Gobara and Bakassi areas of Borno State, bombing scores of the terrorists and the buildings in an air interdiction conducted by the Air Task Force of Operation Lafiya Dole.
The NAF Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, said in a statement on Saturday that the air strikes did “significant damage to the camps and neutralised many terrorists.”
He added, “In continuation of Operation Green Sweep 2, the Air Task Force of Operation Lafiya Dole has destroyed terrorists’ hideouts and killed some fighters at Gobara and Bakassi, Borno State, in separate air raids conducted on Friday.
“The attack on Gobara, a settlement in the Sambisa Forest area, was carried out by two Alpha Jets after the ISR missions had identified a settlement being used by the Boko Haram fighters to store their logistics and other equipment. The jets scored accurate hits in the target area, leading to the destruction of some structures and equipment as well as the killing of several terrorists.
“Also, another active camp, belonging to the ISWAP elements, located at Bakassi on the fringes of Lake Chad in northern Borno, was successfully attacked and several terrorists killed in the air strikes.
“Overhead the target area, the NAF ISR platform observed a significant presence of the ISWAP fighters who were attempting to flee the location upon hearing the sound of the aircraft. The attack platforms were vectored to the area of concentration of the terrorists, unleashing their munitions on the target and causing significant damage to the camp and neutralising many terrorists.”
Meanwhile, a number of soldiers are still missing after the ISWAP terrorists’ attacks on Mobbar, Damasak and Monguno areas about one week ago.
The soldiers, whose number could not yet be determined, are feared abducted by the insurgents or fled to communities and villages outside the North-East of the country.
The recent attacks on army bases necessitated the Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Tukur Buratai, to relocate to the Theatre Command of Operation Lafiya Dole, Maiduguri, from Monday to Thursday to coordinate the troops.
On Friday, troops were able to dislodge a number of Boko Haram terrorists in Nbaga and Gero villages of Borno State after Buratai reviewed “the operational strategies and inject dynamic counter-terrorism operations.”
The troops attached to 152 Task Force Battalion of 7 Division reportedly embarked on several clearance operations during which they rescued eight women and six children from the two villages.
The army is currently conducting Operation Halaka Dodo in the region against the Boko Haram terrorists and their splinter faction, the ISWAP fighters, who have been attacking communities in Yobe and Borno states in recent times.
The military said the army chief was reinvigorating “operational strategies, robust and aggressive operations injected into the Theatre Command.”
During the clearance operation, three AK-47 rifles, five bicycles and one terrorists’ flag were recovered from the villages.
The acting Director, Army Public Relations, Col Sagir Musa, said, “Following reinvigorated operational strategies and dynamic counter-terrorism operations injected into the theatre by the Chief of Army Staff, troops sustained aggressive patrols and ambushes.
“The 152 Task Force Battalion embarked on clearance operations to Nbaga and Gero villages where troops came in contact with the terrorists at Ngaba village. The attack on terrorists’ camps forced the criminals to flee their hideouts in disarray, while an unconfirmed number of the bandits were shot dead.
“Accordingly, eight women and six children were freed from the terrorists, while the terrorists’ makeshift camps were destroyed. The liberated women and children will be handed over to the appropriate agency for further necessary action.”