In a very daring move, members of Boko Haram sect on Friday, March 14, attack military barracks in Maiduguri, Borno State and the University of Maiduguri in attempt to free their detained members
| By Anayo Ezugwu | Mar. 24, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT
IT appears the Boko Haram insurgence in North-East region is not about to end anytime soon. On Friday, March 14, the Islamic sect took the battle to the heart of the military in Maiduguri, capital of Borno State by attacking Giwa Barracks, resulting in many casualties. Realnews learnt that the sect penetrated into the barracks through a river channel at the back of the base.
According to informed sources, the attack on the military base was to set free its members detained in the barracks. Security sources said that attackers who were in military uniform succeeded in freeing some of its members detained at the barracks. Realnews learnt that most of the attackers were of Arab extraction from North Africa and that it took the deployment of two military jets to repel the attacks. One military source who said he counted 22 corpses lying around in from of the barracks, claimed that the attackers were rounded up and killed by soldiers at an army base as they were fleeing after the assault on the barracks. An army source said the sect succeeded in bombing the armoury in the barracks causing huge explosions that reverberated around the city.
The military authorities said that the attacks resulted in heavy human casualty on the terrorists. Chris Olukolade, a major-general and director, defence information, said in a press statement that a pocket of terrorists were seeking to sack the army detention facility in Maiduguri with intention to free their colleagues, in a move to boost their depleted stock of fighters. According to the defence spokesman, those killed in the attacks were some of those the Boko Haram terrorists had gone to rescue. Olukolade said many of the terrorists were killed and their weapons were captured and that only four soldiers were wounded. He said the military had intensified the pursuit of the attackers by land and air operations to trap and deal with the insurgents.
The defence spokesman viewed the raid as a “response to the intensity of attacks on their strongholds in camps at Talala, Monguzum, Sambisa forests, Gwoza, Mandara mountains as well as the general area of Lake Chad,” where many of them had been killed and their camps destroyed.
The attack did not stop at the barracks alone, there reports of attacks and several explosions at the University of Maiduguri as well. But the attack was quickly repelled before grave damages could be done. Some students of the university thought the attack was targeted at the institution, but the police command in the state and the school authorities said it was not so. Lawal Tanko, commissioner of police in the state, said the story indicating that the university had been attack was not true. He said that the university campus was safe as both students and lecturers had been adequately protected. “What happened was that the insurgents passed through a river channel behind the university to launch the attack on the barracks,” he said. Tanko, however, confirmed the attacks on the Giwa Barracks. “It is true that there was an exchange of fire between security agents and some suspected insurgents, but the incident is limited to the barracks area alone,” he said.
On his part, Ahmed Mohammed, chief information officer UNIMAID, the university campus was not attacked, the attackers only used a narrow river side near the campus to carry out their nefarious act. He said that many people assumed that the university was affected because the hostilities took place near the campus. Nevertheless, the state government declared a 24-hour curfew on the capital city and some its surrounding towns and villages to bring back normality to the state.
On Wednesday, March 12, the military re-imposed a telephone blackout on many parts of Borno state. Most residents of the state woke up to discover that they could no longer make calls on their mobile phones. The military said that the seizing of the GSM services was one of the sacrifices that people had to make to enable them enthrone peace in the troubled area. Abubakar Malum, a top official of the Civilian-JTF in Maiduguri, said they had so far arrested more than 50 suspected Boko Haram members. “Most of the arrested Boko Haram suspects were caught trying to invade the town with dangerous weapons like guns and improvised explosive devices. We have arrested one old man near the Air Force Base with a bomb and handed him over to the military. Most of them were arrested inside town while fleeing from the bush camps because the soldiers are now raiding their hideout,” he said.
The renewed vigour in taking attacks to the Boko Haram camps came after the military had come under serious criticism by residents, especially the Civilian-JTF, who said the recent attacks on villagers soared because the military had been foot-dragging in raiding already identified camps of the terrorists. The relocation of Kenneth Minimah, a lieutenant-general and chief of army staff, to Maiduguri also underlines the seriousness of the military to win the war against the Islamic sect.