Nigeria Army troops on Saturday recovered a cache of arms and a Sport Utility Vehicle packed full with Improvised Explosives Devices, while conducting operations after suicide bomb attacks on Zabarmari Muna, near Maiduguri, Borno State.
This was disclosed by the Defence Headquarters in a statement issued in Abuja by the Director of Defence, Maj.-Gen. Chris Olukolade.
Olukolade said the SUV, along with two Hilux vehicles being used by terrorists, was destroyed in the course of pursuit and encounter with the group.
He said the terrorists were trying to escape after simultaneous attacks on targets in the communities on Thursday, July 2 and Friday, July 3.
“A total of six suicide bombers had detonated themselves around the garage, killing scores of people while some people were also wounded. A soldier also died.
“Military Explosives Ordinance experts, backed by Police Bomb Disposal Units, are continuing with vigorous search for any bombs that might have been hidden or left unexploded in the area,” he said.
Olukolade also said all other operations of counterterrorism are continuing on various fronts.
He said additional deployment of men and equipment to enhance the scope of the mission, both within the country and at borders, was also in progress.
The advancement of the terrorist group on two Borno towns, Jere and Bama, on Friday night was successfully repelled by a combined effort of military and youth vigilantes, said the army.
The Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Kenneth Minimah, on Saturday, insisted that the military was winning the war against the Boko Haram insurgents in the North-Eastern part of the country.
The COAS said even with the complex and dynamic environment under which the terrorists operated, the sect’s strength had been depleted.
But residents in Maiduguri told us that the insurgents were determined to invade the state capital.
They said the insurgents on Friday were advancing from Koshebe village in Mafa town, located about seven kilometres towards Zabarmari in Jere Local Government Area before being engaged by military personnel who drove them back.
Idris Abba, a resident, said some of the youth vigilante had to use their vehicles to convey the injured residents to the hospital.
He however said the reinforcement from the 7th Division of the Nigerian Army in Maiduguri had a great impact in crushing the insurgents’ attack.
Jere Local Government Area, which was carved out of Maiduguri Metropolitan Council, borders the capital city and is seen by many as its extension.
A security source said the insurgents pushed for Bama town but were repelled by the military on Friday night.
He said many people were killed in both pushes, adding that because it was night, it would be difficult to ascertain the number of casualties, especially as the insurgents are known to drag their casualties from the battle front.
This latest attacks came a day after similar incidents in Kukawa, Monguno, Malari in Konduga and Miringa town of Biu Local Government Area claimed over 200 lives.
Bama is a 45-minute drive from Maiduguri on the South-East and was recently recaptured from the insurgents, while Koshebe, a village situated in Mafa on the eastern part, is just a few kilometres away from the State Capital.
Attempts by one of our correspondents to get the military authorities in Maiduguri to speak on the incidents were not successful due to poor telecommunications services in the state.
Minimah, who spoke at the Nigerian Army School of Infantry Jaji, near Kaduna on Saturday when 152 people were commissioned into the Nigerian Army in the Direct Short Service Course 22/2015, said the military would not rest on its oars until there was no trace of Boko Haram in the country.
He charged the newly commissioned officers to join the rank of officers and men who have demonstrated gallantry and valour in defence of their fatherland against the terrorists.