Troops conducting counter-insurgency operations in North-eastern Nigeria at the weekend successfully averted attempted massive raids on villages in Borno and Adamawa States.
Making this known yesterday, the Director of Defence Information, Major-General Chris Olukolade, said the terrorists who were on their way to attack selected communities were ambushed by troops along Bilta, Borno State on receiving intelligence report of the terrorists’ intention.
“The attack was launched on the terrorists as they filed out of the forest to embark on their mission at about 10 pm on Saturday. Over 50 terrorists died in the fierce encounter that ensued, while 30 rifles, 36 hand grenades, seven machine guns and 11 rocket-propelled grenade tubes were captured by the troops.
“Also recovered from the terrorists were over 3,500 rounds of ammunition, six smoke grenade canisters and locally-fabricated guns as well as four vehicles used by the terrorists in the foiled attack.
“The four soldiers who were wounded in the operation are currently receiving medical treatment in the military medical facility,” the defence spokesman said.
Also, the Department of State Security Service (DSS) yesterday disclosed that it had taken into its custody a suspected Boko-Haram impersonator.
Coordinator of the National Information Centre and Director General of National Orientation Agency (NOA), Mr. Mike Omeri, monday at the centre, announced that the suspect was undergoing interrogation.
According to him, the suspect had extorted money from some influential Nigerians under the guise of providing them with protection from attacks by members of the sect.
“The Department of State Security has apprehended someone masquerading as a front for the dreaded Boko Haram. The suspect who is undergoing interrogation has been going about extorting money from some influential Nigerians as protection money,” he said.
Spokesperson of DSS, Ms. Marilyn Ogar, while speaking on the repatriation of the terror fugitive, Aminu Sadiq Ogwuche, who allegedly masterminded the bus station blast in Nyanya, said the suspect would not be brought into the country surreptitiously.
Ogar, who confirmed that Ogwuche's father, Col. Agene Ogwuche (rtd), was still in custody, said the elder Ogwuche would not be granted bail until Sadiq is repatriated.
She also said the co-mastermind of the Nyanya bombing, Rufai Abubarkar Tsiga, was still at large.
In another incident, it emerged that more than 100 bodies have been buried almost a week after Boko Haram attacks on three villages in Borno State, local community leaders said yesterday, adding that many more victims of the attacks were yet to be found.
Lawan Abba Kaka and John Gulla from Attagara in Gwoza Local Government Area of the state said nearly 110 people had now been interred after the terrorists stormed the village and at least three other communities on Tuesday and Wednesday last week.
Senator Ali Ndume, who represents Borno South in Nigeria's Senate, said burials had taken place in nine villages: 42 in Attagara, 24 in Aganjara and 20 in Agapalwa.
“From what those who fled told us, there are more corpses in nearby bushes and the mountainside,” he told reporters after a meeting in Maiduguri. “Many people that fled the communities are also trapped on the hills, as they are without food or water,” he added.
Hundreds of people were feared dead in the attack on the Gwoza district, with some community leaders putting the death toll as high as 400 to 500, although there was no independent verification of the claim.
Peter Biye, who represents Gwoza in the House of Representatives, last week, described the bloodshed as “massive” but said the exact numbers of the dead were impossible to compile because the insurgents were still in the area and locals had fled.
Heavily armed gunmen were said to have killed baby boys being carried on their mothers’ backs and shot down villagers as they tried to flee.
Asabe Vilita, a Gwoza Local Government leader, who is also the Borno Commissioner for Commerce and Investment, said 1,290 people were displaced by the violence and many had fled to Maiduguri.
Three camps have since been set up and local political and religious leaders in the affected areas were working with the military to ensure that those who fled can return when it is safe.
The villages are a mix of Christian and Muslim communities, Ndume said, adding that they had long lived peacefully together.
“They may have their disagreements but the latest attacks were perpetrated by Boko Haram. It is sad because our people were mercilessly murdered and many houses razed,” he added.