Despite claims of snuffing out the life of a prominent terrorist commander and pounding the insurgent Boko Haram out of Damasak town by the Nigerian Army, the Borno State Governor, Babagana Zulum, says 18 residents were killed and 21 others injured when the group attacked the border town.
Damasak houses a United Nations hub and is known for vegetable production in Borno State.
The Nigerian Army said a senior commander of Islamic State in West Africa Province, ISWAP, Bukar Gana Fitchmeram (aka Abu Aisha), and scores of his fighters were killed on Thursday. The terrorists were on revenge mission.
Director Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Mohammed Yerima, said the terrorist and his fighters were neutralised as they returned to avenge the death of 12 of their top commanders in the hands of the military in Mobbar Local Government Area of Borno State.
Zulum spent Thursday night in the embattled town and got direct feelers from residents and security agents, his spokesman, Mr. Isa Gusau, said in a statement.
Zulum sympathised with the residents noting that Tuesday’s attack on Damasak was the sixth in two weeks.
Thousands of local residents crossed the Nigerian border into Niger while the onslaught by insurgents lasted, until the military showed up and dealt with them.
Among other places attacked and destroyed in Damasak were private residential houses, a police station, the palace of the district head, and a primary healthcare centre.
To improve security in the area, the governor presented an Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) and 11 patrol vehicles to security forces.
Among the ISWAP commanders neutralised by troops, according to the army spokesman are Ba’a kaka Tunkushe, Abu Muktar Al -Ansari, Ameer Abba Kaka, Mohammad Fulloja , Ameer Mallam Bello, Abu Huzaifa, Ameer Modu Kwayem.
He added that the troops’ artillery bombardment and air strikes on April 6 also resulted in the elimination of two top ISWAP leaders including Abu-Rabi and Muhammed Likita as well as scores of their troops and body guards around the axis of Kusuma, Sigir in Ngala and Arijallamari in Abadam Local Government Areas.
On the night of Saturday, April 10, three other commanders, Ameer Umar, Abu Ubaida and Abu Salim, according to Yerima, were ambushed and killed by troops around Wulgo / Logomani axis close to Cameroon borders while attempting to attack locals and rustle their cows.
Meanwhile, according to a report by PRNigeria, despite the nefarious activities of local informants who regularly tip the Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP) and Boko Haram terrorists off on troops’ operation, the Nigerian military has reinforced its ground troops with sophisticated equipment and Air Task Force’s support, to contain the insurgents terrorizing Damasak axis.
With the aid of local informants, there have been unrelenting assaults on Damasak by both ISWAP and Boko Haram fighters, in recent times.
PRNigeria found out that, in some communities, the informants not only leak vital information to the terrorists but harbour them in their houses and settlements.
They have also been found to assist terrorists in planting landmines against Nigerian troops.
An intelligence operative, told PRNigeria that informants hint terrorists of troops’ movements, adding that the informants’ behaviour is aiding the infiltration of Damasak town and surrounding communities by insurgents.
“It is quite puzzling that while our gallant troops are manning specific locations and conducting patrols, the terrorists with the aid of their local collaborators would just appear from other locations and launch deadly surprise attacks on both troops and civilian populations.
“Though the military is reinforcing the troops with more equipment, the air supports have also led to the elimination of scores of Boko Haram and ISWAP, in the past few weeks,” he said.
Spokesperson of the Nigerian Army, Brig. Gen. Mohammed Yerima, confirmed the activities of informants while debunking reports in a section of the media that the terrorists had overrun and were in control of Damasak town.
He said despite the setbacks occasioned by the informants ‘vicious’ activities, troops have been able to surmount some of the obstacles.
Yerima who described some of the media reports as blatant misinformation said there was an attack by the terrorists on the town, but the terrorists were effectively repelled by the troops.
“As we speak, troops are in total control of the general area. The Commander of 5 Brigade, Brig.-Gen. S. S. Tilawan was driving around the town to assess the general situation, following the attack by the terrorists,” he said.
The Army spokesperson said that the terrorists sneaked in from the northern flank in active collaboration with some local informants.
PRNigeria gathered that terrorists invaded Damasak three times within a week. In the aftermath of the attack, humanitarian offices, private residences, shops and security facilities, were destroyed.
In another development, Nigerian Troops have cleared Boko Haram fighters from five villages in Gamboru Axis. Some of the villages cleared include Gulwa, Ndufu, Eisari , Musiri and Diime Villages, with scores of terrorists killed during the operation.
PRNigeria reports that the troops, led by Lt. Colonel Samson Oladeigbe, embarked on a ‘Long Range Fighting Patrol’ to clear the unit’s areas of responsibility from Super Camp Headquarters in Gamboru.
They eliminated scores of terrorists during the operation. And apart from rifles and gun, the troops recovered magazine carrier, a Boko Haram flag, solar panel, bicycles and motorcycles from the terrorists.
▪︎ Additional reports by PRNigeria