Troops swiftly regained a military base from combined forces of Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP) and Boko Haram at the weekend, The Nation can confirmed.
The terrorists’ wielding machine-guns mounted on trucks, seized Marte – a town 93 kilometres from Maiduguri, the Borno State capital – and the military base there on Friday night.
Borno State is the epicenter of the Boko Haram insurgency.
Ground troops, backed by aerial support, ambushed the reinforcement team of the terrorists before dislodging them.
The Army said troops “tactically withdrew” to defend against the attack from outside Marte.
The ISIL posted a statement on its Amaq news channel on Telegram claiming responsibility for the attack.
It said seven people were killed, and one captured, and that its fighters had seized weapons, ammunition and six four-wheel-drive vehicles and that it burnt down the army barracks. There was no confirmation of these claims.
ISWAP, which split from Boko Haram in 2016, maintains camps on islands in Lake Chad – which borders Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon and Chad meet – and the area is known to be the group’s bastion.
However, the Defence Headquarters said it eliminated scores of terrorists and destroyed their gun trucks.
In a statement, Coordinator Defence Media Operations Major General John Enenche, said the Armed Forces would “not relent until normalcy is restored not only in the Northeast but also in every other troubled part of our beloved country”.
He added: “After successfully repelling a Boko Haram/ Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP) terrorists’ attack on Marte, with the destruction of seven gun trucks by the combined ground and air operations, the Air Task Force of Operation Lafiya Dole has obliterated additional six gun trucks and eliminated scores of terrorists who were attempting to reinforce their colleagues in the attack.
“This occurred on the night of 15 January through to the early hours of 16 January 2021 as the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) helicopter gunships engaged the convoy of ISWAP gun trucks as they approached Marte axis for reinforcement.
“The helicopters delivered accurate hits in their multiple waves of attack, obliterating no fewer than six additional gun trucks, which were seen engulfed in flames across the battlespace.
“Several other terrorists were mopped-up in follow-on attacks as the helicopter gunships continued to strafe the fleeing ISWAP elements.
“The Armed Forces of Nigeria, operating in concert with other security agencies and stakeholders, will sustain the offensive against the enemies of our great nation.”
Chief of Army Staff Gen Tukur Buratai praised his forces for recapturing the military base.
Troops and hundreds of residents were reportedly forced to flee following the attack claimed by the ISIL (ISIS) group.
Also yesterday, the police said four of its men were killed and one still missing following an ambush on a convoy of officers attached to Police Mobile Force – 9 PMF Squadron, Kano by bandits.
The incident occurred on Friday along the Birnin Gwari-Funtua Highway.
Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba, a Commissioner of Police, said in a statement that the policemen were on their way back to their base in Kano after the completion of a special duty.
He said the policemen repelled the attack and inflicted heavy casualties on the bandits after an exchange of gunfire.
According to him, contrary to unconfirmed reports in some sections of the media stating that 18 officers were kidnapped, only 16 officers were attacked in the ambush.
The police spokesman said the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, commended the officers for displaying uncommon gallantry and repelling the attack.
The statement reads: “Contrary to unconfirmed reports in some sections of the media stating that 18 officers were kidnapped, only 16 were attacked in the ambush.
“The officers successfully repelled the attack accordingly and neutralised the bandits in their tens while many of the bandits scampered into the bush with gunshot injuries.
“Regrettably, four of the officers paid the supreme price during the exchange of gunfire between the Police and the bandits while an officer is still missing.
“However, the remaining 11 officers led by their Unit Commander successfully recovered the bodies and firearms of their fallen colleagues while concerted efforts are being intensified to rescue the officer still missing.
“The IGP, while commiserating with the families of the officers who have yet again paid the supreme price in the service of our nation, assures that their death shall not be in vain.
“The IGP assures the citizens that the Force is not deterred and will not relent in its commitment to delivering on its mandate and ensuring that all activities of bandits and other unscrupulous elements in the area and other parts of the country are brought to check.”