•Strikes eliminate loyalists of Shekau, ISWAP at meeting point
• We’re out to rout the enemy once and for all – Military
Soni Daniel, Northern Region Editor
The Nigerian military appears poised to decimate terrorists who have been causing mayhem in many parts of the North following the recent order handed over to them by President Muhammadu Buhari that they should rout the malevolent elements from the land.
It will be recalled that President Buhari had last week met with the military hierarchy at the State House and gave them a marching order to go after terrorists and bandits and bring their brutality to an end. He had given such orders many times in the past but terrorists continued to terrorize Nigeria.
Apparently acting on the latest order, the military is said to have mapped out concrete strategies to unleash unprecedented onslaught on terrorists and other non-state actors who are killing, stealing, kidnapping for ransom and causing displacement and hardship in the country.
Saturday Vanguard learnt that as part of the military’s resolve to put an end to terrorism, many operations have been geared towards eliminating the masterminds of attacks and bringing them to their knees within a reasonable space of time.
For this reason, it was learnt that the military high command had stepped up major operations across the country that would unleash devastating blows to terrorists and bandits wherever they may be hiding.
It was gathered that the recent military operations yielded positive results and forced many of the terrorists to beat a retreat in many parts of the Northeast and Northwest and incapacitated their commanders as well as put them in disarray.
A top source, who is familiar with ongoing operations confirmed to Saturday Vanguard that it was in furtherance of the various military strikes that the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Oladayo Amao, personally travelled to Kaduna, which is viewed as one of the centres of interest, on Wednesday this week to see things for himself, review what is being done and to give appropriate directives to those in the theatre of action.
The top official said: “In the Northwest specifically, the effect of strikes undertaken by NAF aircraft have revealed that several terrorists have been eliminated and their enclaves destroyed. One of such strikes which occurred on 9 August 2022 resulted in the elimination of a well-known terrorist leader operating in Kaduna State.
“Indeed, following receipt of intelligence on 9 August 2022 that a well-known terrorists’ kingpin, Alhaji Shanono, had scheduled a meeting with his foot soldiers at Ukambo, a village about 131 kilometres from Kaduna, the Air Component of Operation Whirl Punch dispatched aircraft for interdiction mission at the location.
“Overhead the location, terrorists were sighted under clusters of trees at the foot of Ukambo high ground and after ensuring the absence of civilian settlements within the location, the crew received the authorization to strike.
“Feedback from local sources disclosed that over 30 rifles and 20 motorbikes were destroyed while about 18 terrorists, including Alhaji Shanono, were neutralized while others sustained various degree of injuries. Sources also revealed that not less than 26 kidnapped victims earlier held by the terrorists were released as a result of the air strike.
“Similar strikes were also undertaken in the Northeast as well. There, the Air Component of Operation Hadin Kai had their tasks well cut out for them as they have been fully engaged in conducting air interdiction missions on terrorists’ targets in Borno State.
“One of such operations was conducted on 6 August 2022 at Gazuwa, about 1.2 kilometres to Gargash, after intelligences revealed that infighting for relevance and supremacy was underway between terrorists of the Shekau faction and terrorists aligned to Islamic State of West Africa (ISWAP).
“The state of confusion and disorder among the two terrorists’ factions thus presented an opportunity for a surprise strike by NAF pilots which was carried out using two aircraft types. Intelligence received and corroborated by local sources revealed the strike was a success as the terrorists did not anticipate it with many of them eliminated and others injured.
“The impact of the strikes is said to have reverberated through the remaining terrorists’ camps who are beginning to realize that they are fighting an unjust and lost cause that will no doubt lead to their death. Most are said to be contemplating surrendering just like others before them,” the top security source said last night.
Military sources have also confirmed that the Nigerian military is certain and optimistic that with the level of successes being recorded, the counterterrorism strategies and efforts put in place by the authorities will in no distant time yield the expected outcome.