BY NDAHI MARAMA, MAIDUGURI
The Boko Haram insurgents that had taken over Bama town last Monday in Borno state; have Saturday night; fully retreated from the strategic reclaimed town; as fierce aerial bombardments by the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) fighter jets, Military sources confirmed Sunday in Maiduguri, the state capital.
One of the sources said that the aerial bombardments to knockout Boko Haram’s weapon installations in the border town had recently overrun; adding that; “our tactical aerial attacks to reclaim this town had been effective and yielding the desired results. This will enable the fleeing residents and villagers to return within the shortest period of time.”
“But the weekend battle however took a heavy toll on civilian lives and property as the insurgents were said to be embedded with residents, allegedly used as human shields if the military launches any attack on the occupied town,” said Mustapha Modu, now taking refuge in Maiduguri.
On how Bama was reclaimed, the source said: “The first attacks didn’t really make the expected impact but the second round of bombardment really injured those Boko Haram boys, which is why they are retreating now. They are no deeper into Bama, while our people are advancing and gaining territory. The Boko Haram boys are right now
“We are now dislodging them. You know, Air Force have intensified their efforts; they brought F-7 and different kinds of aircraft. They really bombarded them.”
Another military source also confirmed the advances of the Armed Forces in the battle field of Bama but cautioned that it was no time for celebration yet, as the operation was still ongoing in several parts of Borno State.
He said the situation was “still very volatile” with Gwoza, Gambouru, Wulgo and one or two town in northern Borno, are far from being liberated from the terrorists’ takeover in the last three months.
“We don’t want to say anything official but there are still fights going on in different places and on different scales, especially by air. This is a critical and unusual time,” the senior military officer said.
He also explained that apart from the aerial campaign in Bama, NAF had been effective in support of the ground forces with the launch of air
attacks with different aircraft types, including helicopter gunships.
He said: “We are very deeply involved. You know what we are having here is a joint operation of the services, even though the Navy may not be involved right now because of the terrain.
“First and foremost, apart from the airlift, we are equally supporting the ground forces; in most of the cases we even take the initiative.
In modern warfare, Air Force normally does the first dirty job, clear the road for the Army to do the mop up operations.
“Like I said, all our platforms are participating fully here. We have Alpha Jets, we have F7, Beechcraft, Mi35, which is the gunships, and then all our transport planes: C-130, the G TripleT. So we are participating fully and playing a significant role in that place.”
A military intelligence source in Maiduguri Sunday also said: “Gwoza is still a no-go area, I must tell you the truth, as the town is firmly in hands of the Boko Haram terrorists. We are currently focusing on Bama before advancing to other areas in northern and southern parts of Borno state.”
Sources within the military also blamed some of the difficulties being encountered in the fight against Boko Haram on what they term indiscriminate retirement of experienced officers.
“Our capital city of Maiduguri is today facing a heavy influx of refugees from the local government areas in Borno. Borno citizens have been forced to take refuge in parts of Gombe and Adamawa states mainly on account of man’s inhumanity to fellow man in the gratuitous name of religion. These acts are absolutely condemn able in the strongest of
terms,” said the military officer.
However, Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno state in his state-wide broadcast Saturday said: “In the history of Borno State since the 19th century, the latest insurgency was “not the first threat to our existence as a people. We had faced and survived threats in years past and we shall survive this by God’s willing.
“We are confident of victory through a reinforcement of our Armed Forces and the collective will of all of us, citizens, who are
committed to defeating the Boko Haram scourge.”