Nigerian troops have massed around Gwoza to retake the town from members of the Islamist group, Boko Haram, military sources have disclosed. The battle for control of Gwoza rages as reports emerged that Boko Haram insurgents today killed 20 people in Doro Baga in Kukawa local government area of Borno State. The residents of the embattled village also disclosed that the militants kidnapped several women in an early morning raid.
One military source in Abuja told SaharaReporters that the soldiers on the mission to recapture the town were drafted from Maiduguri and Mubi in Adamawa State. The officer added that special Army and Air Force units had been pounding Boko Haram positions since yesterday.
“Over 1000 soldiers are involved in this operation to take Gwoza back from Boko Haram,” said the officer, adding that the troop commanders were confident of dislodging the insurgents in a matter of hours or days.
A resident of Bama, which is 35 miles from Gwoza, told SaharaReporters that he had observed a large contingent of troops moving towards Gwoza in the last 24 hours. He also stated that he had heard gunfire overnight.
Boko Haram insurgents overran Gwoza last week, killing at least 100 residents, including the wife of the town’s emir, his brother, and the chief Imam of Gwoza.
Shortly after taking over Gwoza, Boko Haram militants repelled a column of soldiers that came from Bama to chase them away, inflicting a significant casualty on the troops. Two days later, a group of soldiers from the 234 Battalion led by Lieutenant Colonel Agu had to abandon Gwoza when Boko Haram fighters overwhelmed them. In that battle, the Islamist militants captured one military tank and its driver. They also burnt two other tanks.
Some of the soldiers who spoke anonymously to SaharaReporters said the lack of communication equipment inside the tanks was responsible for the costly tactical errors in the earlier Gwoza operation. “The front tank suddenly turned back when its weaponry malfunctioned,” said one soldier. He added that, unable to figure out the reason for the sudden turn around, the troops took to their heels instead of positioning the three other tanks behind to engage the militants.
Officials at Nigeria’s Defense Headquarters in Abuja have declined to speak officially about the latest battle, but a military source in Abuja anonymously confirmed that the military had started waging a wide range of operational activities aimed at driving Boko Haram militants out of Gwoza.