Friday, 30 January 2015
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Nine soldiers and 56 insurgents might have been killed in the attempt of the Boko Haram sect to capture Maiduguri on Sunday morning.
The attack on the town began at about 12.30am and could not be totally suppressed until about 11am.
It was gathered that hundreds of heavily armed insurgents tried to gain entrance into the town through Jinikin-Moronti, on the road linking Maiduguri to Damaturu along the Jos-Kano highway and close to two major housing estates, 1000 and 707.
The suspected terrorists were confronted by the soldiers and other security operatives of the 33 Battalion Barrack at the entrance to the town.
The battle initially raged from 12.30am to about 3.30am, when the attack was thought to have subsided.
Other security operatives and members of the youth vigilance group joined in the exercise as the insurgents were successfully repelled.
Just when everyone thought the insurgents had retreated, the militants came back with renewed vigour, throwing the residents of the state capital into panic.
As the confusion deepened, the residents could not venture out of their houses, let alone going to church for the Sunday worship service.
The second phase of the gunfight between the soldiers and members of the terror group, which started around 5.40am, was successfully repelled at 11am.
Heavy shelling ricocheted all around the town as the military had to deployed both ground and aerial battle to suppress the determined insurgents.
At the end of the siege, nine soldiers were believed to have been felled as the insurgents were reduced by 56 men.
They were said to have equally lost in equipment, three armoured tanks and two Hilux jeeps to the attack.
Some members of the youth vigilance group, who were involved in repelling the attack, revealed that nine soldiers, who were killed in the attack, were conveyed by a military patrol van from the scene of the attack to the Garrison Command along the Pompomari area near the Military Anti-Bomb Squad around 12.30pm.
Air Force surveillance jet continued to hover over the town as some pockets of insurgents, who were believed to be in the town, were still been trailed.
A member of the youth vigilance group, Modu Baana, who spoke to journalists, said, “It was around 2am when we were alerted of the deadly move by the terrorists to enter Maiduguri through the Jimtilo outskirts. We learnt that over 100 heavily armed men with armoured tanks and Hilux jeeps were about coming into the town.”
Baana added that the fighter jets helped the ground troops as the combined operation scattered the insurgents, forcing some to flee into the neighbourhood having been overwhelmed.
Dreaded Islamists terrorist group Boko Haram have released over 200 women and children earlier captured in Yobe state.
A security source in Damaturu told our reporter that the women and children were abducted early this month in Gujba and Katarko areas in the state.
The freed women and children were among 250 persons; the sect abducted in the two areas.
The source said the fighters are still holding several women and children abducted from the area.
Boko Haram leaders did not explain why they freed the women and children.
WASHINGTON — Relations between American military trainers and specialists advising the Nigerian military in the fight against Boko Haram are so strained that the Pentagon often bypasses the Nigerians altogether, choosing to work instead with security officials in the neighboring countries of Chad,Cameroon and Niger, according to defense officials and diplomats.
Major rifts like these between the Nigerian and American militaries have been hampering the fight against Boko Haram militants as they charge through northern Nigeria, razing villages, abducting children and forcing tens of thousands of people to flee.
Secretary of State John Kerry is scheduled to travel to Nigeria on Sunday to meet with the candidates in Nigeria’s presidential elections, and the Pentagon says that the Nigerian Army is still an important ally in the region — vital to checking Boko Haram before it transforms into a larger, and possibly more transnational, threat.
“In some respects, they look like ISIL two years ago,” Michael G. Vickers, the undersecretary of defense for intelligence, told the Atlantic Council last week, using another name for the militant group known as the Islamic State. “How fast their trajectory can go up is something we’re paying a lot of attention to. But certainly in their area, they’re wreaking a lot of destruction.”
But American officials are wary of the Nigerian military as well, citing corruption and sweeping human rights abuses by its soldiers. American officials are hesitant to share intelligence with the Nigerian military because they contend it has been infiltrated by Boko Haram, an accusation that has prompted indignation from Nigeria.
“We don’t have a foundation for what I would call a good partnership right now,” said a senior military official with the United States Africa Command, or Africom, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter. “We want a relationship based on trust, but you have to be able to see yourself. And they’re in denial.”
The United States was so concerned about Boko Haram infiltration that American officials have not included raw data in intelligence they have provided Nigeria, worried that their sources would be compromised.
In retaliation, Nigeria in December canceled the last stage of American training of a newly created Nigerian Army battalion. There has been no resumption of the training since then.
Some Nigerian officials expressed dismay that relations between the two militaries have frayed to this point.
“For a small country like Chad, or Cameroon, to come to assist” the Americans, “that is disappointing,” said Ahmed Zanna, a senator from Nigeria’s north. “You have a very good and reliable ally, and you are running away from them,” he said, faulting the Nigerian government. “It is terrible. I pray for a change of government.”
The tensions have been mounting for years. In their battle against Boko Haram, Nigerian troops haverounded up and killed young men in northern cities indiscriminately, rampaged through neighborhoods and, according to witnesses and local officials, killed scores of civilians in a retaliatory massacre in a village in 2013.
Refugees said the soldiers set fire to homes, shot residents and caused panicked people to flee into the waters of Lake Chad, where some drowned.
Last summer, the United States blocked the sale of American-made Cobra attack helicopters to Nigeria from Israel, amid concerns about Nigeria’s protection of civilians when conducting military operations. That further angered the Nigerian government, and Nigeria’s ambassador to the United States responded sharply, accusing Washington of hampering the effort.
“The kind of question that we have to ask is, let’s say we give certain kinds of equipment to the Nigerian military that is then used in a way that affects the human situation,” James F. Entwistle, the American ambassador to Nigeria, told reporters in October, explaining the decision to block the helicopter sale. “If I approve that, I’m responsible for that. We take that responsibility very seriously.”
All the while, Boko Haram has continued its ruthless push through Nigeria, bombing schools and markets, torching thousands of buildings and homes, and kidnapping hundreds of people.
Now stretching into its sixth year, the militant group’s insurgency has left thousands of people dead, the overwhelming majority of them civilians. It killed an estimated 2,000 civilians in the first six months of 2014 alone, Human Rights Watch said, and many of Nigeria’s major cities — Abuja, Kano, Kaduna — have been bombed.
American officials say that while it is unclear exactly how much territory Boko Haram effectively controls in Nigeria, the group is, at the very least, conducting attacks across almost 20 percent of the country.
“They reportedly control a majority of the territory of Borno State,” in northeastern Nigeria, “and a significant portion of the border areas with Cameroon and Chad,” said Lauren Ploch Blanchard, a specialist in African Affairs with the Congressional Research Service.
Even before the Nigerians canceled the training program in December, American military officials were stewing when soldiers showed up without proper equipment. Given the nation’s oil wealth, the Americans attributed the deficits to chronic corruption on the part of Nigerian commanders, saying that they had pocketed the money meant for their soldiers.
“It’s not like they don’t have the money,” the senior Africom official said. “There are some things that we require to be good partners. The first of which is a commitment on the part of the Nigerian government to support its own army. They have a responsibility to provide adequate pay, to take care of their people, and to equip them.”
“None of those empty allegations have ever been proved,” said Chris Olukolade, a spokesman for the Nigerian military. “The Nigerian military has always been receptive of honest support or assistance from well-meaning friends or partners. No one should however seek to use this security situation to usurp our sovereignty as a nation.”After Boko Haram made international headlines last April by kidnapping more than 200 schoolgirls, the United States flew several hundred surveillance drone flights over the northeast to search for the girls, but those missions were unsuccessful. When the Pentagon did come up with leads, American military officials said, and turned that information over to Nigerian commanders to pursue, they did nothing with it.
The frustrations between the two sides has broad implications for the fight against Boko Haram, officials said, including making it harder for other international partners who have joined the effort. “We are trying to work closely with the French and the Americans in support of the Nigerian military and government against Boko Haram,” a senior British diplomat said. “A rift between one of our two partners and the Nigerians is not a good thing.”
The New York Times
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