By Kingsley Omonobi & Umar Yusuf
Heavy fighting between Nigerian troops and Boko Haram terrorists ensued yesterday in Adamawa State as soldiers backed from the air by Nigerian Airforce attack helicopters launched an attack to retake territories in the possession of Boko Haram.
Military sources in Adamawa state told Vanguard that the onslaught to retake the towns of Bazza, Michika and Madagali was launched from the town of Vimtim, the hometown of the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh and that the General Officer Commanding 3 division of the Army, Major General Mohammed Zaruwa was coordinating the onslaught
Said the source, “I can assure you that we are advancing successfully. We have dealt a heavy blow on the terrorists. They didn’t expect what they are seeing. Our armoured tanks are blasting and they are running for their lives. The airforce is providing air cover and hitting them also.
“I cannot give you a categorical answer regarding casualties but so far about 400 of the terrorists have been killed. We have casualties among our soldiers also but the propaganda circulating that 70 of our men were killed is wishful thinking”.
“From reports on the ongoing battle, we may have lost a few soldiers but it cannot be confirmed because usually, they may have been injured and are holed up somewhere for first aid treatment” the source said.
Contacted on the development, Director of Defence Information, Major General Chris Olukolade confirmed the fighting but stated he cannot give casualty figures or full details as operatives on ground were yet to furnish him with the situation report. He said he would give details when the operation is concluded.
Online media reports had indicated that during the fight at least 70 soldiers were killed in a fierce battle between insurgents and Nigerian troops and pointed out that the fighting was for control of the towns of Bazza and Vimtim in Adamawa State, a claim denied by the military source.
The source further debunked claims that Boko Haram used helicopters to fight back noting that the Nigerian airforce helicopters may have been mistaken for that.
An eye witness told newsmen that the insurgents at a point on Sunday might re-grouped at the Federal Government College, (Technical) in Michika before they were dislodged and chased away.
According to him, “the army came in on Sallah day and since then fierce fighting has been on. But, as you can see the insurgents are moving away and the military are following them”.
“The insurgents who were in their thousands came through Uba and attacked the Nigeria troops. “The gallant Nigerians soldiers were attacked from the rear by the militants but the military men engaged them in fierce battle over five hours “.
It will be recalled that on the 7th of September, 2014 the Boko Haram insurgents overran Michika, Bazza, Madagali and other border towns between Adamawa and Borno State during which the son of the former Nigeria President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, a Lieutenant Colonel, Olugbenga Obasanjo an Engineer in the Nigeria Army was shot and wounded.
During the takeover of Madagali and Michika, the insurgents also attempted to overran Vimtim, the hometown of the Chief of Defence staff, Air Chief Marshall Alex Badeh.