*44 terrorists, 6 soldiers killed in encounters
ABUJA—The Federal Government announced, yesterday, that it was getting nearer to finding the over 200 schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram terrorists on April 14 from Chibok, Borno State.
This is just as the military also said that troops have taken over Balmo forest in Bauchi and killed over 45 terrorists in an encounter, capturing foreign mercenaries and weapons.
The abducted schoolgirls were writing their school certificate examinations when they were abducted after they were lured away on the pretext by the terrorists that they were soldiers sent to rescue them from insurgents.
They were allegedly herded into some lorries and ferreted away to unknown destinations.
One of the Boko Haram leaders who masterminded the abduction has however been arrested.
Coordinator of the National Information Centre, NIC, Mike Omeri, said security agencies have made much headway in infiltrating the ranks of the terrorists and were in possession of information that will eventually lead to the rescue of the girls and ultimate defeat of Boko Haram.
Responding to accusations by Chibok community that Federal Government was not sharing information with them concerning efforts being made to locate and bring home the girls, Omeri said: “This centre has been open. We have always communicated and media houses have been reporting. But if they want security information beyond what we are communicating, then that is beyond us here.”
The Director General of National Orientation Agency, NOA, said part of the new information obtained about the dreaded group was that it has a female wing.
He said a Boko Haram armourer was arrested, but that some of the other information were still undergoing administrative processes and as such classified.
Omeri said: “We will let you know when further actions are taken. We now know some of the female operatives of Book Haram and some of their armourers.”
Omeri disclosed that a military commander was among the six troops who lost their lives at the weekend when terrorists stormed their camp in Borno State.
Meanwhile, the Nigerians troops, last weekend, captured the Balmo Forest in Bauchi. The Defence Headquarters said this in a statement by its spokesman, Brig. Gen. Chris Olukolade in Abuja, yesterday.
Balmo stretches through Jigawa State, linking the dreaded Sambisa Forest in Borno State.
According to the statement, “troops have cleared and taken over Balmo Forest in a military operation that lasted throughout the weekend.
“Prior to the operation, Balmo Forest, stretching from Bauchi through Jigawa states with links to the fringes of Sambisa Forest in Borno, was used by terrorists as bases and hideouts for launching attacks.
“Terrorists and armed gangs operating in the forests were completely rooted out while some were captured during the operation. Among those captured were two foreigners who are suspected to be mercenaries.
“Also captured are several weapons and equipment including power generating sets, communication equipment, vehicles, motorcycles, foodstuff and kitchen utensils.
“In another development, over 44 terrorists have died in Kerenoa and adjoining communities, following an encounter with troops who repelled their attack on the communities. Armed with IEDs and other high caliber weapons, a large number of terrorists had carried out a predawn attack on the communities but met with stiff resistance of the troops.
“During the operation, several of them were captured with weapons and ammunition of various calibre.
“Meanwhile, troops on routine patrol around Banki and Miyanti in Borno State, during the weekend, fought through an ambush laid by terrorists resulting in casualties on both sides.
“Altogether, six soldiers were lost in the various encounters with terrorists during the weekend, while those wounded are receiving treatment.”