From DESMOND MGBOH, Kano
A total of 14 persons, suspected to be members of the Boko Haram Islamist sect, were killed on yesterday in Kano, in an early morning operation by the Joint Security Task Force in the metropolitan area of the state. Also killed in the shootout that began at about 4.00am and lasted several hours was a soldier, just as another soldier was injured.
The scene of the bitter confrontation, which started initially as a routine search operation in the quarters was a pink building located at Yan ‘Awaki Quarters, behind Ungwar-Ukwu Area in Tarauni Local Government Area of the state capital. Among the weapons recovered in the dawn operation was a blue Golf car, with the registration number: “AW 164 NSR,” which, according to security authorities, was already primed with explosives and set to wreak havoc on the people of the state on Easter Sunday. Other weapons of destruction recovered from the scene were explosives and explosive-making devices of various kinds as well as arms and ammunition of different caliber, including a locally fabricated anti-aircraft launcher. The number of suspects arrested was not specified but a suspect, described as one of the commanders of the sect in the state, was among those taken into custody by the Joint Security Task Force. He was moved away in an armoured carrier vehicle amidst tight security. The densely populated Yan ‘Awaki Quarters was simply frozen while the operation lasted. Traffic for the whole of the morning was barred while residents stayed indoors for fear of being caught in the crossfire just as armed personnel flooded the streets. Already, the heads of the various security outfits in the state had inspected the scene of the operation. Among the officers were the head of the JTF in the state, Brigadier General Ilyasu Abba, the director of the State Security Service (SSS), the Commissioner of Police of the state, Alhaji Musa Daura and the 339 Base Services Group Commander, Air Commodore Sani Ahmed. Speaking to newsmen at the scene, General Abbah disclosed that the operation followed intelligence report to the effect that the sect members had concluded plans to wreak yet another havoc in many places in the state. He explained that the ambush was carried out by the task force, acting on the intelligence reports. General Abbah held that the sect members did not mean well for the state and for the country, adding that among the weapons recovered from them was an antiaircraft weapon. He confirmed that 14 Boko Haram suspects died, 11 in the building area and three in their bid to escape in a truck. He added that a soldier was killed while another was injured and hospitalised but was in stable condition. General Abbah said the fighting broke out when the sect members attacked the troops that came to the area to conduct a peaceful search. He appreciated the efforts that were made to protect civilians and the immediate neighbourhood of the operation and maintained that as a matter of rule, “the residents of the neighbourhood are being protected, unless if they don’t cooperate with security forces.” He was uncomfortable that nobody in the neighbourhood raised the alarm over the car that was primed with explosives, saying, “you can’t imagine that this car (bomb-laden Golf car) had been primed and it was kept here. And they are neighbours to some people and nobody had been able to raise the alarm.” Against this background, he called on the people of the state to cooperate with security forces, while reminding the public that the issue of ensuring the security of lives and property was not to be left for the security forces alone. He added: “I would say that wherever you have more than 10 people in a place, they need to adopt security measures of how to protect themselves before the security forces can come for them.” The head of the JTF in the state maintained that, “the security forces in the state have been doing a lot, covertly, to ensure that Kano and its environs is peaceful but we have not been making noise about it.”