Armed Boko Haram insurgents
• 35 others murdered in Benue community, Fulani herdsmen clash
By Senator Iroegbu and George Okoh with agency report
At least 17 people have been killed by an explosion in a village market in Borno State in an attack blamed on Boko Haram terrorists, while another 35 persons were reportedly slaughtered in Gbajimba, Guma Local Government Area of Benue State when suspected Fulani mercenaries attacked the area.
But despite the exploits of the sect, the military remains undeterred and has vowed to snuff the life out of the sect, with the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Major-General Kenneth Minimah, charging the officers and soldiers in the North-east to ensure that members of Boko Haram do not have any opportunity to breach security and perpetrate atrocities in any part of their area of responsibility.
The deadly bomb blast went off in a busy marketplace late on Thursday in the remote village of Nguro-Soye, Borno State, injuring many more, said police chief, Lawan Tanko.
News of the attack was slow to emerge after insurgents destroyed nearby telecom towers, shutting down communications in the area.
“An explosion in the market in Nguro-Soye killed 17 people,” Tanko told AFP, adding that police were investigating the source of the explosion.
“The attack on Nguro-Soye, as in previous attacks, is the handiwork of Boko Haram insurgents.”
Residents, who fled the village to the state capital Maiduguri, put the death toll at nearly 30, and said more people were hurt.
“They (attackers) fired a RPG (rocket-propelled grenade) on the market and opened fire, killing 29 people,” said a local trader Hamisu Ibrahim.
“Many people were injured in the attack and the stampede that followed,” added Ibrahim.
Nguro-Soye lies close to the town of Bama where 60 people were killed last month in coordinated bomb and gun attacks by the terror group that burnt half the town.
Deadly attacks blamed on the sect have intensified since the turn of the year, making it one of the bloodiest since the insurgency began in 2009.
So far, in 2014, some 700 people have been killed in more than 40 incidents, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).
“There is an ongoing military operation in the area (Borno) against the group and the attack was likely in frustration over their losses,” Tanko said.
“It is not established whether the explosion at the market which killed 17 people was as a result of planted IED (improvised explosive device) or RPG,” he explained.
Also, in Benue State, no fewer than 35 persons were reportedly killed yesterday in Gbajimba, Guma Local Government Area, during a renewed clash when suspected Fulani mercenaries attacked the area.
According to an eyewitness, a heavy gun battle ensued between the mercenaries and youths in the local government area headquarters who have vowed to resist further attacks on their settlements.
This latest fighting is coming on the heels of the recent sack of Tse Ortom-Adorogo, hometown of the Minister of State for Trade and Investment and supervising Minister of Aviation, Dr. Samuel Ortom, as well as the attack in the same axis on Governor Gabriel Suswam’s motorcade.
Another source told THISDAY that the herdsmen stormed Gbajimba early yesterday morning but were repelled by the youths who engaged them in a bloody fight.
“They came in their numbers very early this morning from Awe Local Government Area of Nasarawa State and made an attempt to seize the town and the local government secretariat, but they were confronted by our youths who resisted them, forcing them to beat a retreat.
“But just this afternoon at about 1 pm, they staged a more coordinated attack on the town. This time they came in their hundreds, shooting, burning down houses, huts and killing anything in sight,” the source revealed.
At the time of this report, heavy fighting was still ongoing in Gbajimba and corpses of the dead littered the communities, just as many people were reported missing.
Confirming the clashes, Daniel Ezeala, the police spokesman in the Benue State capital, Makurdi, said reports came in from Gbajimba that there was serious fighting but no official report had been made.
“We have dispatched our men to investigate the crises,” he said.
Meanwhile, Minimah has vowed to snuff the life out of Boko Haram, while charging the officers and soldiers to ensure that the terrorists do not have any opportunity to breach security in any part of their area of responsibility.
Minimah, in a statement issued yesterday by the Director of Defence Information (DDI), Maj-Gen. Chris Olukolade, gave this charge while addressing officers at Giwa Barracks, Borno State, during his recent operational tour to check on troops covering Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States.
He commended the troops for their resilience in the ongoing offensive against the terrorists, and also assured them that all necessary efforts were being made to ensure that they do not lack anything considered vital to accelerating the success of their mission.
He however warned against any form of indiscipline or the mishandling of equipment made available for the operations.
Continuing, the COAS emphasised the need for officers to continue to give the required leadership to the soldiers.
“All the training and experience already imparted on all military personnel are now necessary and required to ensure that the entire effort at curbing the menace of terrorism succeeds as planned,” he said.
Minimah, who was in the company of Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Adesola Amosu, also visited the Military Hospital in Maiduguri and interacted with troops who had been wounded during clashes with the insurgents.
The commander of the hospital, Brig Gen Ike Okeke, while briefing the service chiefs, stated that most of the wounded soldiers were now in a stable condition with some of them expressing the desire to rejoin their units and colleagues in the operation in the North-east.
The service chiefs, during their visit, also conducted a comprehensive air surveillance of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States, in addition to the direct inspection of some key locations.
They expressed satisfaction with the progress of the operations and performance of the deployment so far, noting that substantial expectations of the counter-terrorist campaign had been met.