Boko Haram militants

Members of the dreaded Boko Haram sect, on Saturday, wreaked havoc on Gombe, the Gombe State capital, as they attempted to take over the city, forcing some residents to flee while some were forced indoors.

However, the army has stated that it was able to repel the insurgents’attack on the capital city with a combination of air and ground operations, while the state government has imposed a 24-hour curfew on the town and its environs.

The army, through a statement made available to newsmen by PRNigeria, confirmed the attack and how the military overcame through a tweet on the Defence Headquarters’ handle, saying troops were in pursuit of the insurgents.

According to the statement, security sources had noted that owing to the bombardment of Boko Haram camps in the northern parts of the states close to the borders with neighbouring countries by Nigerian troops in cooperation with troops from the Multinational Joint task Force (MNJTF), the insurgents were moving southwards.

Eye witnesses said the militants attacked soldiers at the security checkpoints at the edge of the town and forced their way into the quarter guard of the 301 Artillery Regiment.

It was gathered that sounds of gunshots and bombs rent the air for over three hours before military fighter jets were later seen hovering and releasing aerial fire on some selected parts of the town.

Unconfirmed report said the insurgents were able to penetrate into the 301 Artillery Regiment of the Nigerian Army barracks in the town, adding that several vehicles were destroyed in the barracks.

It was further learnt that the Quarter Guard of the 301 Artillery Regiment was completely razed to ashes by the insurgents.

Many police stations in the metropolis were said to have been attacked by the insurgents, while the number of the casualties recorded during the attack could not be ascertained as of the time of filing in this report.

A resident, Umar Danyaya, told Sunday Tribune on phone that the situation was very tense as gunshots were heard from parts of the capital city, confirming that many who could not flee were indoor.

Sunday Tribune gathered that the insurgents had early in the day attacked Dadin Kowa and Hinna communities in Yalmatu Deba Local Government Area of the state while heading for the capital.

According to information gathered from residents, the Boko Haram members invaded the communities at about 6:30am in Toyota Hilux vans, shooting sporadically, forcing residents to run for dear life.

A resident of Dadin Kowa informed that they had witnessed strange movement of some unidentified persons in the area some days ago, adding that they could have been on a spy mission to the area.

According to the resident, heavy gunshots were heard in surrounding communities, declaring that the insurgents were heading towards the state capital, expressing surprise that security personnel deployed in the area took to their heels on sighting the advancing insurgents.

The source informed that the insurgents were sharing leaflets, warning the people not to vote during next month’s general election, adding that they also killed many people.

Another source from Hinna said many people were killed in the community, while many many facilities, including the ambulance vehicle of Hinna Cottage Hospital, were destroyed.

Hinna, Dadin-Kowa, Kwadon, Liji and all adjoining towns and villages on the Gombe-Biu axis were said to have been turned to ghost towns and villages as residents had fled to safety, with no one seen in the communities.

Speaking to Sunday Tribune, the Gombe State Police Command’s Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), DSP Fwaje Atajiri, told journalists that the police and other security agencies were still assessing the situation, declining further comment.

Meanwhile, the state government has urged the people in the state capital and its environs to remain indoors to allow security operatives to carry out mop up action to complete their successful repel of the insurgents.

Speaking with the Sunday Tribune through the telephone, the Special Senior Assistant on Media to Governor Hassan Ibrahim Dankwambo, Mr Ayuba Aluke, informed that the governor, who was out of the state as of the time of the attack, had directed that except for essential services, no movement was allowed until further notice.

Aluke lamented the attack on Gombe, expressing delight that the military and other security agencies were able to successfully repel the insurgents, calling on the people to remain indoors to enable security personnel carry out mop up operations.

He, however, dispelled the rumour doing the round, particularly on the social media, that the insurgents destroyed a number of police stations, including those of Township and Federal Low-cost, saying it was untrue.

In a related development, the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) has called upon the Boko Haram insurgents to embrace dialogue as the only civilised way to address their grievances rather than killing innocent souls.

The Forum said this in a statement on Saturday, condemning the recent suicide bomb blast, which occurred at the Biu town market, Borno State, describing it as shocking and unbelievable.

The forum said the attack was wicked, barbaric, gruesome and condemnable considering the innocent people killed and injured by the suicide bombers.

In the statement signed by the National Publicity Secretary of the Forum, Alhaji Muhammad Ibrahim, and made available to Sunday Tribune, ACF noted that what was disturbing was the arrest of another two female bombers who wanted to carry out another dastardly act.

 According to the statement “Biu emirate has enjoyed relative peace compared to the other local government areas of Borno State that have been under the control of the insurgents due to efforts of the military and the civilian JTF that have maintained joint operations and shared intelligence to repel many attempted attacks on the town.”

Boko Haram plans massacre of 200,000 Christians
MORE than 200,000 Christians are the main target of a Boko Haram attack on Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, intelligence reports indicated at the weekend.

According to a report by the NBC News on Saturday, the terror group has started activating its sleeper cells in and around the Maiduguri metropolis in readiness for the attack.

It reported that “Boko Haram forces appear poised to attack Maiduguri, a city of two million in North-East Nigeria, meaning that 200,000 Christians could be at risk of slaughter by the Islamist terror group, say US intelligence officials and experts on Nigeria.”

Director of the Africa Project at the Atlantic Council, J. Peter Pham, said “an attack on Madiguri is very likely. They have done it everywhere else they have gone. So, why not Maiduguri?”

Pham’s view, according to the report, was similar to those of US intelligence officials, who also believe that Boko Haram has already placed “sleeper cells” among the tide of refugees who had fled the group’s rampage.

It added that “there is evidence that the group has already begun testing defences on Maiduguri’s outskirts.”

Also, prominent legislator from Borno State, Senator Ahmed Zanna, was quoted by NBC News at the weekend as saying that a group of suspected Boko Haram militants raided the village of Mbuta, only 15 miles North-East of Maiduguri, killing eight people, burning buildings and forcing most others to flee their homes.

He, however, said despite these attacks, residents were determined not to let their city be overrun.

“If Boko Haram comes back, people will be ready. They will come out in the streets in their hundreds and thousands to defend Maiduguri,” he said.

Also, the report noted that “former US Ambassador to Nigeria and now director of the Bunche Center at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), Mr John Campbell, said an internal CFR analysis shows that there is only one road in and out of Maiduguri that is not controlled by the group.”

“It is a noose around Maiduguri. There is one road open, going West. There is potential for a raid and occupation,” Campbell said.

Jonathan seeks more US help to fight Boko Haram
President Goodluck Jonathan has appealed to the United States (US) for greater assistance in the fight against Boko Haram.

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) at the weekend, quoted the president as saying; “are they not fighting ISIS? Why can’t they come to Nigeria?”

“They are our friends. If Nigeria has a problem, then, I expect the US to come and assist us,” he said.

Jonathan said Boko Haram militants, who have taken over swathes of territory in northeast Nigeria, have received “training and funds” from the Islamic State jihadists, based in Iraq and Syria.

Jonathan said he has requested combat soldiers and military advisers from Washington since early 2014, according to the newspaper.

US involvement in Nigeria has been fraught, with Washington accusing Nigeria’s military of being in denial about the threat posed by Boko Haram, which has captured dozens of towns in the last six months.

The United States has also been critical of the Nigerian government’s slow response to the mass abduction of more than 200 girls from the town of Chibok in April last year.

US drones were deployed and the Pentagon dispatched intelligence and surveillance specialists in the hope of finding the kidnapped teenagers still being held but to no avail.

But Nigeria’s ambassador to Washington has accused the United States of failing to provide the weaponry required to end the fighting and Abuja also ended a US training program for soldiers to take on the militants.

On a visit to Nigeria in January, US Secretary of State John Kerry said Washington was “prepared to do more” to help Nigeria counter the Boko Haram insurgency, which has claimed some 13,000 lives.

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