By AbdulSalam Muhammad, Ndahi Marama & Suzan Edeh
KANO —In what appeared to be a major victory against the Boko Haram sect, the Joint Military Task Force confirmed, yesterday, that the sect’s spokesman, Abu Qaqa, has been killed, while two other members were arrested after a shootout between the sect and security operatives. There were, however, different accounts on how the encounter took place.
According to one account, quoting an official of the task force, the shooting occurred yesterday morning in Mariri, a town southeast of Kano, where soldiers stopped a vehicle with the sect spokesman, the commander, the spokesman’s wife and their children, the official said. It was not clear what happened next, though the official said soldiers shot dead both the commander and the spokesman. The wife and children remain in military custody.
The wife told soldiers the men had accompanied her to Kano as she sought medical help. The military official was said to have spoken on condition of anonymity as the information was not to be made public yesterday. Lt. Iweha Ikedichi, a military spokesman in the region, later told journalists that soldiers had only killed one man, the Boko Haram spokesman. However, the official who spoke to The Associated Press had been at the scene of the attack and offered further details about the scene.
A different account said a team of the Joint Military Task Force stormed the hideout of the sect in Hotoro area of Kano municipal where one of the commanders of the sect was killed, while two other members were arrested during the combat operation.
Vanguard was told that the military action followed intelligence report indicating the presence of high profile sect members, who had been on the wanted list of security agents in the area.
The source further revealed that the daylight operation involving several infantry and counter terrorism officers was swift and ended within half an hour.
The sources, however, refused to divulge the identity of the “top commander” killed during the operation and those taken into custody, pointing out that “what mattered at the moment is the success recorded during the military action”.
Residents were apprehensive when a military helicopter was seen hovering the skyline of the city indicating a major military operation.
JTF confirms operation
Confirming the arrest, JTF spokesman in the city, Lt. Ikediche Iweha told Vanguard on phone that “we carried out a raid this morning around Hotoro general area where we killed a member of a terrorist group and arrested two during the operation”
Lt Iweha, however failed to clarify the identity of the top commander killed and those arrested. He only said that “we don’t have their nominal roll and can not say who was killed and arrested but investigation would certainly reveal their identity.”
Meanwhile, Kano city and environ were generally calm after the operation as business activities resumed while there were increased activities in all the military check points in the city.
Yesterday’s combat operation came on the heels of a devastating attack by yet to be identified gunmen at Hotoro area where a member of National Security and Civil Defense Corp (NSCDC) was killed with his entire family.
In a related development, bloody confrontation between the JTF and some suspected terrorists in Maiduguri left 10 persons dead, while gunmen killed five persons in Zango area of Bauchi Metropolis.
An eye witness of the Maiduguri incident, Mallam Usman Abdullahi, who resides in the troubled Gwange ward, which is one of the black spots identified by the JTF, told Vanguard that “an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) suspected to have been planted on Sunday by some terrorists targeting a security patrol vehicle in Gwange Ward of Maiduguri, the Borno State capital exploded, leaving two men of the JTF seriously injured.
Abdullahi said: “Soon after the explosion, gunshots ensued, but the JTF after repelling the attack quickly cordoned off the area, while the exchange of gun duel between the JTF and the attackers led to the killing of some people and burning of several houses.
“I cannot tell whether those killed were innocent people or the houses which were set ablaze belong to the suspected terrorists, but all I saw with my eyes was that some corpses littered the streets on Monday (yesterday) morning, even as some houses were still burning as I am talking to you now”, Abdullahi stated.
A hospital attendant at the State Specialist Hospital who did not want his name mentioned, told Vanguard that he saw two patrol vehicles of the JTF with some corpses around the gate of the hospital. He added that each of the vehicles carried five dead bodies.
Bizman shot in Yobe
Also on Sunday evening, at about 8:45pm, some gunmen shot and injured a Business man and a top ANPP stakeholder in Yobe State, Alhaji Mustapha Sheriff Mashidimami.
It was gathered that the gunmen who invaded the family house of the politician on Damboa Road, Maiduguri Metropolis demanded unspecified amount of money, but when they were not able to get the money from the business man, they shot and injured him before they fled.
Already, Alhaji Mashidimami has been rushed to an undisclosed hospital where he was said to be responding to treatment.
Unknown gunmen kill five, injure seven in Bauchi
In Bauchi, five people were confirmed killed while seven others sustained injuries when unknown gunmen yesterday attacked Zango area, near federal low cost housing estate, a suburb of Bauchi metropolis.
The area, it was gathered, was one of the flash points in the town that witnessed several ethno-religious and communal clashes.
A community leader in the area told Vanguard that “the gunmen targeted an area where people used to assemble in the evening to play cards and gamble. They came inside a tricycle and started shooting sporadically, killing five people on the spot and injuring several others who were later taken to the hospital.
Some residents said they were scared when they heard several gunshots near their houses which caused fear, confusion and pandemonium as they scampered for safety. Immediately after the incident, security men cordoned the area.
Efforts to get the state commissioner of Police Mohammed Ladan failed as he did not pick his calls while the Police Public Relations Officer ASP Hassan Mohammed Auyo said he was on casual leave and had travelled out of the state.
A reliable security source confirmed that five people were killed on the spot and seven were injured but that no arrest was made and security men have commenced investigation into the matter.
In his reaction, Governor Isa Yuguda condemned the attack on innocent people at the Zango area of Bauchi metropolis describing it as an act of terrorism which his administration and other governments in the country are fighting hard to eradicate.
Yuguda condemns killings
The Governor according to a statement from the Office of the Chief Press Secretary, Ishola Michael Adeyemi, condoled with families of all those who lost their loved ones in the barbaric act.
Yuguda who described the assailants as terrorists assured that government would do everything humanly possible to track them down and bring them to book because, according to him, “there is no way we will allow criminals and terrorists to continue to live among us terrorizing innocent people; we must join hands to stop these heinous acts.”
He added that terrorist acts are not directed at one direction, either because of religion, tribe or political affiliation, but a general target at every citizen of the country, saying that, “we must all come together to fight these evil men, they live among us and we must expose them at all cost. These wanton killing must stop now.”
He, therefore, appealed to all those affected not to do anything that would aggravate the already tensed situation which may lead to breakdown of law and order. Let us allow the security operatives to do their work and eventually track down the criminals. We should please avoid anything that will lead to the loss of more lives and disrupt the peace that we are enjoying in the state, he appealed.”