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Military kills 300 terrorists, liberates 11 communities

By Karls Tsokar (Abuja) with agency reports
18 February 2015   |   9:15 pm
• Boko Haram threatens to disrupt polls  IN a major boost in the war against terror, the military in a well-coordinated attack from the air has recaptured 11 communities from terrorists in the Northeast. Two soldiers died, while more than 300 Boko Haram fighters were killed in the last two days, according to information from…

Olukolade-DDI

• Boko Haram threatens to disrupt polls 

IN a major boost in the war against terror, the military in a well-coordinated attack from the air has recaptured 11 communities from terrorists in the Northeast. Two soldiers died, while more than 300 Boko Haram fighters were killed in the last two days, according to information from Defence Headquarters. 

  Meanwhile, the leader of Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau has threatened that the group would disrupt the March 28 presidential election. Shekau stated this on Tuesday in a new video purportedly released by the group.

  Director of Defence Information (DDI), Maj.-Gen. Chris Olukolade, in a statement Wednesday said that the mop-up operations had further weakened the insurgents with “massive casualty inflicted on them within the last two days of the counter terrorist operations.” Several weapons, military equipment and vehicles belonging to the insurgents were either destroyed or captured.

  Olukolade said: “Mopping up operation of some of the communities where terrorists have been cleared in the course of ongoing air and land operations against terrorists has indicated massive casualty inflicted on them within the last two days of the counter terrorists operations. Over 300 terrorists were killed while a few were also captured.” 

  This operation, according to the Defence spokesman, is now dominated by the federal troops who are combing the areas to fish out any element that might be hiding and clear the area of the group.

    “It has been confirmed that five different types of armoured fighting vehicles, an anti-aircraft gun, about 50 cases of packed bombs and eight  different types of machine guns, five rocket-propelled grenades, 49 boxes of various types and calibres of ammunition as well as 300 motorcycles were destroyed in the fighting.

  “A total of six Hilux vehicles including those mounted with anti-aircraft guns were also destroyed,” the statement said.

  According to the reports from the Defence Headquarters, the air and land operations which have continued with aggressive advance towards other designated communities and locations away from  Monguno a few days ago, meant to be cleared in the ongoing offensive against the terrorists have continued to record resounding successes. The troops have already cleared 11 communities of the terrorists and their elements, it said.

  It added: “The cordon and search operations is continuing along with aggressive patrols by troops who are now dominating the cleared communities such as Monguno, Gabchari, Abba Jabari, Zuntur, Gajigana, Gajiram, Damakar, Kumaliwa, Bosso Wanti, Jeram and Kabrisungul.

  “The various phases of the highly coordinated air and land operations are also ongoing in the designated theatres being handled by contingents involved in the renewed counter terrorism campaign in and outside Nigeria.

  “However, two soldiers lost their lives while 10 others were wounded in the course of the operation” and are being treated in some military hospitals.”

  In the video, released on on-line medium on Tuesday and obtained by United States-based SITE intelligence group, Shekau warned President Goodluck Jonathan’s government that next month’s elections would be disrupted with violence.

  “Allah will not leave you to proceed with these elections even after us, because you are saying that authority is from people to people, which means that people should rule each other, but Allah says that the authority is only to Him, only his rule is the one which applies on this land,” he said.

  “And finally we say that these elections that you are planning to do, will not happen in peace, even if that costs us our lives.”

  In the video message, titled: “A message to the leaders of the disbelievers,” the contents of which have not been verified, Shekau also chided the leadership of regional countries who are co-ordinating efforts against the group.

  “You are claiming that we don’t know how to fight, but we forced your forces to flee from their bases, and we freed our imprisoned brothers from the prisons that you oppressed them in, only praise be to Allah.”

  Nigeria’s presidential election was to be originally held on February 14, but was postponed due to security concerns.

  Speaking before Shekau’s threat, Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou vowed that his country would herald the end for the rebels, whose six-year insurgency has cost more than 13,000 lives.

Renewed attacks

“Niger will be the death of Boko Haram,” he told a cheering crowd after a protest against the insurgents in the capital Niamey.

  But Boko Haram has proved resilient and experts question whether the group can be overpowered in the short-term.

  On Tuesday, two suicide attacks ripped through Northeast Nigeria, killing at least 38 people and injuring 20 others.

  In a separate development, the United States (U.S.) military said on Tuesday that it would be providing communications equipment and intelligence to help African nations in the fight against Boko Haram.

  Major General James Linder said that as part of the annual U.S.-backed ‘Flintlock’ counter-terrorism exercises this year in Chad, the United States would provide technology allowing African partners to communicate between cellphones, radios and computers.

  The renewed attacks on Tuesday came as Heads of State from Central African countries were ending a meeting in the Camerounian capital, Yaounde, to plan the creation of a joint military response to the growing regional threat posed by Boko Haram.

  The 10-member states announced that they had contributed more than 50 per cent of the $100 million needed to fight Boko Haram. They also called on Nigeria to cooperate by allowing the multinational joint task force to attack Boko Haram in its strongholds in Nigeria.

  Boko Haram has fought a five-year insurgency, has recently begun stepping up its attacks against neighbouring countries after Cameroun, Niger, Chad and Benin agreed to contribute troops toward a regional military effort.

  The violence has forced some 157,000 people to seek refuge in Niger, while 40,000 others have gone to Cameroun and 17,000 are in Chad, the UN said.

  Almost one million Nigerians are internally displaced, according to the country’s own statistics.