By Kingsley Omonobi, Ndahi Marama
MAIDUGURI — No fewer than 50 Boko Haram members and over 30 soldiers were feared killed in an encounter around Pilka, Kirawa and Gwoza communities of Borno State in the last one week, reliable security source has confirmed.
It will be recalled that following the military take-over of Damboa Council Headquarters which was captured by terrorists, suspected Boko Haram gunmen in their hundreds escaped from Damboa and Sambisa Forest where they invaded and captured Gwoza town in Borno State, following last Wednesday=s multiple attacks on several houses, a police station, secretariat complex, and the Emir=s place.
In the latest Gwoza attacks, even the new Emir, who took over from his late father, who was killed by Boko Haram, Alhaji Muhammed Idrisa Timta narrowly escaped being killed.
A top security source confirmed to our correspondent in Maiduguri that “the deployment of military to Gwoza, weekend, led to serious casualties from both sides, as more than 30 soldiers were ambushed and killed by terrorists in Pilka, Kirawa and other villages on the Maiduguri Bama Gwoza troubled road.
“Also, over 50 of the insurgents were killed in the encounter, but unfortunately, military troops in Kirawa withdrew and returned to Bama where they were reunited with their colleagues at the military barracks following the fire-power from the insurgents. They could not go to Gwoza as directed by their commanders.
AAt T Junction on Banki Road, the terrorists also ambushed the military post where both sides suffered several casualties, although I don’t have details of those killed yet,” the source said.
He added that it was difficult for security operatives to enter Gwoza town where terrorists had a field day, because, most of the villages along the road leading to Gwoza where its inhabitants were sacked, were occupied by terrorists who climbed on trees and opened fire on military operational vehicles.
A text message sent to Director, Defence Information, Major General Chris Olukolade to confirm the incident was not replied.
Meanwhile, following months of making strategies on the best ways of rescuing the over 200 abducted girls of the Government Seconday School, Chibok, the Defence headquarters, yesterday, disclosed that Nigerian soldiers have infiltrated and taken positions in Sambisa forest, the den where the girls and several other hostages were being kept.
Director of Defence Information, Major General Olukolade, who made the disclosure, said that Sambisa Forest is a wide expanse of land covering over 6,000 square kilometres with several communities living inside, noting that this explained why the military could not just go into the forest and bomb the whole place.
Explaining that the armed forces were not relenting in a bid to bring back the girls, General Olukolade said the military wanted to avoid collateral damage in the process of rescuing the Chibok girls, insisting that the foreign collaboration in efforts at achieving this goal was assisting in this regard.
On the take-over of Gwoza town by Boko Haram and the subsequent hoisting of their flags, and counter attacks by soldiers to re-take the town, he said that no portion of Nigeria was available for terrorists to occupy, adding that “if they (terrorists) appear to be doing so now, it was only a joke.”