Defence Headquarters yesterday in Abuja made a promise to members of the Islamic terrorist group, Boko Haram. It said, the terrorists will be pursued to wherever they run to and tracked down as military penetration of the notorious Sambisa forest has forced them to flee in different direction. Already, major terrorist camps in the forest have been captured by troops following heavy aerial bombardment by the Nigeria Air Force and ground troop assault by the Nigeria Army.
Dusclosing this yesterday at a Press briefing in Abuja, Defence spokesman, Major-General Chris Olukolade said “over 13 terrorists’ camps including the notorious Tokumbere camp in Sambisa forest have been captured. Other camps overran and destroyed by troops include, Wulari Bukar, Gangala, Anguwar Bakwai, Jigide, Kotorima, Lagura Bello, Lagina Fulani, among others”. He also disclosed that “several governfield commanders and foot soldiers of the terrorist group have lost their lives, some armoured personnel carriers, Bufallo vehicles mounted with Anti-Aircraft guns, a truck and several Hilux vehicles were destroyed by troops.
“Also recovered from the fleeing terrorists are a number of Anti-Aircraft guns, General Purpose Machine Guns (GPMG), Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPG) and several AK 47 rifles”, he said also. Olukolade, who disclosed the loss of one soldier in the battle to retake Sambisa, said “already, the dislodged and disorganized terrorists are in flight on different directions and running helterskelter in the expansive forest. There is no longer any respite or sanctuary for them; they will be pursued and tracked down not minding the daunting challenges in the mission including hundreds of land mines and difficult terrain of the Sambisa forest”.
He assured that the military will sustain the momentum of the operation “until that Sambisa forest is comprehensively cleaned out and all Nigerians held captive within the bowels of the forest are rescued”. He however waved an olive branch to the terrorists urging them to give up and be saved from military guns. He said: “We encourage any of the combatants who is desirous to surrender to come out, as the forest will no more be tenable as a haven for their activities. In the same vein, innocent civilians among those in flight are also encouraged to report themselves to the troops” just as he assured that “we will continue to treat civilians in the most professional and humane way”. Commenting on the 293 females rescued from the forest by troops, Olukolade stated that “the well coordinated operation is already yielding results as troops in the last few days rescued 200 girls and 93, women and an additional number of hostages.
The true identity of some of the rescued women and girls are yet to be ascertained. At the moment, what is upper most and of priority is their movement to a conducive place where they are now undergoing thorough profiling to verify their true identity, where they come from, how they found themselves in the forest, etc.” He also said that more persons have been rescued from the forest adding that “additional number of persons is still being recovered from the forest”.