Sunday, 6 January 2019

Army Assembly Thousands Of Troops In Bid To Recover Baga,Five Other Towns From ISIS Affiliate


The Nigerian military has assembled thousands of troops and equipment in preparation for a massive operation to retake Baga and five other towns in the northern part of Borno State from Boko Haram.

The towns were reportedly seized last week by members of the Islamic State in West African Province (ISWAP), the faction of Boko Haram that is affiliated to ISIS.

The Abu Mus’ab Albarnawi-led group reportedly took control of Baga, Doron-Baga, Kross Kawwa, Bunduran, Kekeno and Kukawa, after expelling their military defenders.

The Army has denied reports of the falls of the towns but residents fleeing the areas confirmed the presence of Boko Haram fighters on the streets.

The fresh military buildup is coming days after the Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima convened an extra-ordinary security meeting to come up with measures to halt the resurgence of terrorist attacks in the state.

Daily Trust on Sunday learnt that all the three arms of the nation’s armed forces, the army, navy and the air force, would be involved in the major offensive to flush out the insurgents from the areas they have captured.

Credible sources said the Defence Headquarters had gone far in mobilising men and resources ahead of the major onslaught scheduled to take place anytime soon.

“A major operation is on the way but we can’t divulge the details to you,” a source said.

“More troops including ground troops, airmen and naval personnel are being deployed from different formations. They would join those on ground in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states for the operations,” he said.

Another source said many fighting equipment were being put together for onward delivery to the northern part of Borno for the major operation.

“It is going to be a serious operation, I can assure you,” he said.

Residents in parts of northern Borno confirmed mass movement of soldiers and military hardware to the area.

The Borno State Hunters Union, Daily Trust on Sunday reliably learnt, has also deployed a reinforcement of its men to the captured communities to lend a helping hand to the military.

Boko Haram insurgents have stepped up attacks on military locations in the North-East recently, with an attack in November at Metele claiming the lives of over 20 soldiers.

The soldiers were killed when the insurgents overran 157 Battalion in northern Borno. Additional 12 soldiers also lost their lives in separate attacks around that period.

Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Yusuf Tukur Buratai last month attributed the setbacks to psychological warfare by the Boko Haram faction, which he said had instilled fears in both troops and civilians.
 
It was learnt that apart from attacking military bases, ISWAP has been ambushing military convoys and patrols.

The most recent of such attacks happened in Banki, where two soldiers were killed, when troops of 152 Battalion were ambushed by the insurgents. They seized four Hilux vehicles belonging to an unnamed NGO and three drums of diesel.

It was also gathered that the group, after taking Baga, had been making consistent attempts to overrun Monguno (64km from Baga and 171km to Maiduguri). But they have been repeatedly beaten by the Army’s Special Forces deployed in the town.

Many of the insurgents have lost their lives in the hands of the elite troops defending the town, sources said. They also said that over 200 of them were killed by Nigerien forces as they moved towards the neighbouring country after they were repelled from Monguno.

 

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