By Kingsley Omonobi, Abuja
Security has been beefed up around the Federal Capital City, FCT, Abuja, following the clash between bandits and troops last week.
Competent military sources confirmed last night that troops of the Nigerian Army, comprising mainly Army Headquarters Garrison and Guards Brigade, have been put on red alert to avert a revenge attack by bandits/terrorists whose members were repelled earlier last week, in a failed attempt to infiltrate the Federal Captal territory through the Suleija/Zuma axis.
This is just as it emerged that the death toll of soldiers who were felled by the terrorists in the ambush attack had risen to 16.
Vanguard had reported that during the heavy gunfight that ensued between the bandits in the forest, where they were converging before troops of 102 Guards Battalion confronted them, two officers and six soldiers were killed, while about 12 other soldiers were wounded before a reinforcement, led by the commanding officer in five Hilux vans stormed the forest and neuitralised many of the bandits.
However, sources have disclosed that some of the soldiers who sustained gunshot wounds in sensitive parts of the body and were rushed to several military medical facilities in the FCT did not survive, bringing the number of casualties so far to about 16.
Vanguard was told that following intelligence report that the bandits may be hatching a plot to carry out a revenge attack, all entry and exit points of the FCT has witnessed troops carrying out reconnaissance patrols.
Specifically troops have been deployed to villages and area councils located along the Abuja/Lokoja expressway namely Abaji, Kwali and Gwagwalada Area Councils while the Suleija/Zuma axis has been beefed up by battle-ready soldiers.
In this regard, soldiers have resumed cordon and search operations at Giri/Gwagwalada axis close to the University of Abuja while the same applies at the Zuba/Suleija axis.
One source disclosed that following last Tuesday’s bomb attack of train plying the Abuja/Kaduna railway line in which many people were killed and many others kidnapped at Rijana, and the assessment visit to the scene by the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen Faruk Yahaya, a directive had been issued for the establishment of a Forward Operations Base FOB at Rijana.
One source, who gave a further insight into the deployments, said: “We’re deploying to the communities located along the Abuja/Lokoja highways and all exit/entry points into the FCT we have intelligence that these bandits/criminal elements are trying to establish their bases after excessive bombings of their enclaves in the North East and North West.“They want to take advantage of the rural communities in the FCT to establish and launch attacks and be kidnaping innocent persons.
“This is why for sometime, cases of kidnapping have been frequent in the FCT, especially in the communities located along the Abuja/Lokoja highways and this necessitated the deployment of troops.
“Additionally, you know we are in an election season and criminals would do anything to want to destabilise the relative peace in the nation’s capital with their evil activities which they have been trying for some time without success.”
“In particular, areas of interest to the military and other security agencies where suspected criminal elements are believed to be hibernating include Zuba, Madalla, Gwagwalada, Bwari, Nyayan, Kugbo, Gwagwa, Mpape, Karmo, Kubwa kuje, Masaka, Apo, Masaka, Gudu as well as some major markets in the city and troops area are taking no chances.’’
Efforts to get authorities of the Defence and Army headquarters to comment on the developments through phone calls proved abortive as the calls were not picked.