…As military keeps mum over casualties

Timothy Olanrewaju, Maiduguri

The Service Chiefs, led by the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Gabriel Olonisakin, Army Chief, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai and his Air Force counterpart, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar have moved to Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, two days after Boko Haram raided Gudumbali, a border town around the Lake Chad, killing undisclosed numbers of soldiers and civilians.

The service chiefs, who arrived Maiduguri before noon, proceeded to the headquarters of Operation LAFIYA DOLE, the Military Command and Control Centre (MCCC) for the counter-insurgency operation in the North East.

Military sources said the military chiefs held close door meeting with some operational commanders and senior military officers at the MCCC, reviewing last Friday’s Boko Haram attack at Gudumbali, headquarters of Guzamala Local Government  Area of Borno State, along the Nigeria-Niger border where soldiers and civilians mostly returnee IDPs were killed.

The Gudumbali attack by Boko Haram occurred, on Friday evening, and lasted for about four hours, fleeing residents and military sources around the area said.

The insurgents came with high calibre weapons, firing into the town and attacked the military base, the sources disclosed.

Scores of troops and residents, mostly returnee internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), were killed but the military has kept mute about the casualty figure.

Army spokesman, Brig.-Gen, Texas Chukwu said, in a statement that troops foiled the attack, adding that the troops “inflicted  overwhelming casualty on the terrorists due to superior fire power while some of the terrorists fleto the fringes of Lake Chad.”

The statement, which came 48 hours after the attack, said the insurgents came to Gudumbali to “extort and terroriwe law-abiding citizens as well as to attack the military base in the town.”

The Army spokesman maintained that the terrorists were met a serious resistance by the gallant troops. “Efforts are on by the troops to get other fleeing members of the terrorists group,” he said even as he urged residents around the area to be more vigilant.

The Friday attack marked the return of Boko Haram to Gudumbali, a town some 209 kilometres north of Maiduguri, nearly three years after the military recaptured the town from the insurgents.

On November 18, 2015, Boko Haram raided a military base in the town No fewer than 150 soldiers were killed in the attack described by the army chief, Lt.Gen Buratai as unfortunate. A cenotaph was built and recently commissioned by the army chief, Gen Buratai in remembrance of the fallen soldiers.

The northern part of Borno particularly around the Lake Chad area remains the stronghold of Al-Barnawi faction of Boko Haram believed to have allegiance with the terrorists group; Islamic State of West Africa (ISWA).