Boko Haram Retreats from Bama After Facing Heavy Aerial Bombardment
The heavy bombardment of the bases set up by the Boko Haram Insurgent fighters in Bama after taken over the town few days ago has forced the insurgents to beat a full retreat from the strategic town.
Military sources confirmed yesterday that the aerial attack aimed at knocking off Boko Haram’s weapon installations in the town has been effective and yielding the desired results.
President Goodluck Jonathan had on Friday, reportedly, ordered a full-scale war against Boko Haram.
NAF intensified its bombing campaign at the weekend to rid Bama of the terrorists, pockets of which were still said to be holding out in the town and its environs. But the battle took a heavy toll on civilian lives and property as the insurgents were said to be embedded with residents, locals said.
A source said, “The first attacks didn’t really make the expected impact but the second round of bombardment really injured those Boko Haram boys, which is why they are retreating now. They are no more deep into Bama, while our people are advancing and gaining territory. The Boko Haram boys are right now retreating.
“We are now dislodging them. You know, Air Force have intensified their efforts; they brought F-7 and different kinds of aircraft. They really bombarded them.”
Another military source confirmed the advances of the Armed Forces in the battle of Bama but cautioned that it was no time for celebration yet, as the operation was still ongoing in several parts of Borno State. He said the situation was “still very volatile” with Gwoza far from being liberated from the terrorists’ siege.
“We don’t want to say anything official but there are still fights going on in different places and on different scales, especially by air. This is a critical and unusual time,” the senior military officer said.
A senior Air Force officer, who spoke from Borno State, said apart from the aerial campaign in Bama, NAF had been effective in support of the ground forces with the launch of air attacks with different aircraft types, including helicopter gunships.
He said, “We are very deeply involved. You know what we are having here is a joint operation of the services, even though the Navy may not be involved right now because of the terrain.
“First and foremost, apart from the airlift, we are equally supporting the ground forces; in most of the cases we even take the initiative. In modern warfare, Air Force normally does the first dirty job, clear the road for the Army to do the mop up operations.
“Like I said, all our platforms are participating fully here. We have Alpha Jets, we have F7, Beechcraft, Mi35, which is the gunships, and then all our transport planes: C-130, the G TripleT. So we are participating fully and playing a significant role in that place.”
However, the senator for Borno Central senatorial district, Ahmed Zannah, said the military might be playing right into the enemy’s hands by focussing on Bama. He said the reported retreat of Boko Haram from Bama might be a ploy to draw out the military from Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, before launching a heavy onslaught on the town.
The warning came against the backdrop of recent Boko Haram seizure of towns that are just few kilometres from Maiduguri, which is already swarming with internally displaced persons said to be numbering over 100,000 who are housed in different camps.
With the recent attacks on Gwoza and Bama, those displaced since January in the North-east are estimated to have risen to over 500,000, according to the National Emergency Management Agency.
Zannah said in an alert to the military, “At present, there are pockets of insurgents in Bama, men who are mainly indigenes of the town but left behind by their leaders to continue to terrorise the town. The leaders have left for their hideouts in Sambisa.
“It is believed that those left in Bama are to draw the military out of Maiduguri and when they are reclaiming Bama, the large number of insurgents in Sambisa will sneak into Maiduguri to take control of the town.”
Zannah said Maiduguri, from where the insurgents had been driven about a year ago, remained their ultimate target, saying there are indications that the sect is arming for a battle to capture the ancient town.
Sources within the military blame some of the difficulties being encountered in the fight against Boko Haram on what they term indiscriminate retirement of experienced officers.
One officer said, “The problem we are also having now is that the military retired the very ambitious and brave people from the service for the fear of coup without knowing that this kind of thing will arise. Some of these military officers, very courageous ones, should have still been in the system and by now they could have given the guidelines on how we can go about this.
“They could have acquired enough skills on how to manoeuvre to deal with these guys. If we succeeded outside the shores of this country, in Liberia, Sierra Leone and other places, how much more back home here. The fact is that this is not like a conventional war.”
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