Air Force deploys Special ForcesAU, UN, ECOWAS back govt
Special Forces have been deployed in Borno State to step up the fight against Boko Haram, The Nation learnt yesterday.
The Air Force special forces are to join hands with soldiers to curb the resurgence of the terrorists’ activities. Men of the Special Forces are trained to undertake difficult tasks.
Boko Haram’s bloodletting has resurged, with last week’s ambush of an oil exploration convoy in which almost 50 people are believed to have been killed.
Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, who ordered the Service Chiefs to relocate to Borno State, yesterday said the operation against the sect should be scaled up.
The army, which last week announced the recovery of 10 bodies, including those of one officer and nine soldiers, said yesterday it had recovered 21 more bodies, arms and ammunition from the ambush site.
Army spokesman Brig.-Gen. Sani Kukasheka Usman, in a statement at the weekend, said:
“So far the search and rescue team has recovered additional bodies of five soldiers, 11 members of the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) and five members of the exploration team.
“Contrary to reports in some media, six out of the 12 members of the exploration team that went out are still missing, while one of the NNPC staff returned to base alive.”
Gen. Usman, who described the incident as “unfortunate”, said that the error in the statement issued by the army on the rescue mission was not “deliberate”.
“The incident of 25th July 2017, where Boko Haram insurgents ambushed our troops, including members of the CJTF, escorting some staff of the NNPC as well as that of University of Maiduguri (UNIMAID) on oil exploration in Yesu District of Magumeri Local Government Area of the state is unfortunate and highly regrettable.
“Most regrettable also is my earlier release on the said incident about the rescue of all NNPC staff. The error in the statement was not deliberate.”
The Army had earlier claimed to have rescued all the abducted university personnel.
UNMAID Vice Chancellor Prof. Ibrahim Njodi said the army recovered only five bodies and that four of its staff were still missing.
The spokesman said the army had redoubled efforts in the pursuit of the insurgents to rescue the abducted personnel.
“Search and rescue is still ongoing to secure the safe return of the remaining civilians.
“The Nigerian Army condoles with the families of all that lost their loved ones in this unfortunate incident,” the statement said.
According to him, the army has recovered three of its gun trucks from the insurgents, in addition to four Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG), four RPG chargers, six AK-47 rifles, one Anti-Aircraft Gun, one General Purpose Machine Gun, one Anti-Aircraft Gun Barrel, one RPG tube, four dane guns, eight tyres and two rims.
Other items recovered include one pumping machine gun, two tyre jacks, one super battery, five reflective jackets, three Toyota Hilux, four jerry cans filled with petrol, one Motorola radio, one Geographical Positioning System (GPS), 21 empty jerry cans, two shovels and three food coolers.
Troops also recovered 122 rounds of PKM ammunition, 213 rounds of 7.62mm NATO ammunition, 1255 Anti-Aircraft Guns ammunition, four boxes of API 12.7mm ammunition, one AK-47 Rifle Magazine, a digger, two bows and 13 Arrows, two LLG bombs, assorted drugs and working tools.
“We are counting on the goodwill and support of the populace in volunteering valuable information that could help in the search and rescue operation”.
Director of Public Relations and Information (NAF) of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Air Commodore Olatokunbo Adesanya, speaking on the action taken, said: “The measures include the deployment of additional NAF Special Forces and personnel of the Regiment Specialty to reinforce Base security and also fight alongside the Nigerian Army troops and NAF Special Forces that were already on ground.
“In addition, the NAF has deployed thermal imaging cameras aimed at adding more value to the current efforts at detecting and checkmating the activities of suicide bombers before they carry out their suicide missions.
“The thermal imaging camera uses infrared and reads temperature differences up to an appreciable distance away and can identify a person at an acceptable distance. The cameras, which are mounted on NAF aircraft, can also penetrate obscurants, such as smoke, fog and haze.
“The NAF, in recent times, has stepped up its counterinsurgency operations to further decimate the ability of Boko Haram Terrorists (BHTs) in the North East. The focus has largely been the conduct of Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions as well as interdiction missions on identified BHT targets.
“This is in addition to range of other air operations and humanitarian intervention schemes aimed at winning the heart and minds of the populace in the conflict areas. The NAF remains appreciative of the support it is enjoying from Nigerians in its efforts at putting an end to the madness in the North East Geopolitical Zone of our country.
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