By Bode Olushegun
The Nigerian military on Tuesday claimed that 75 terrorists were eliminated in some of its clampdown on Boko Haram/Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP) in the Northeast.
Addressing a press briefing at Ngamdu, Borno State, the base of “Operation Fire Ball”, established a month ago by the military in the Northeast to further strengthen the ongoing counter-insurgency operation in the troubled region, Brig. Gen. Benard Onyeuko, the Acting Director, Defence Media Operations said: “Sequel to the commencement of Operation Fire Ball, a subsidiary operation under Operation Lafiya Dole which is meant to clear the remnants of the Boko Haram/ Islamic State West Africa Province terrorists from their identified enclaves in the North East region.
“The Operation has recorded tremendous succeses within the short period from its existence with the last week of the preceeding month proving to be the deadliest against the criminals.”
He said: “The troops in the various sectors of the Theatre have continued to carry out their tasks relentlessly.
“The successes so far achieved wouldn’t have been possible without the sacrifice, commitment and gallantry exhibited by the well motivated troops some of whom have paid the supreme sacrifice.
“Within this period, the troops have carried out aggressive clearance operations, ambushes, robust day and night patrols in order to finally decimate the remnants of the Boko Haram/ISWAP criminals.
“Consequently, as a result of the aggressive offensive action carried out by the troops, several terrorists elements have been neutralized as large number of their equipment were captured while some were equally destroyed in the process.
“In this regard a total of 75 Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorists were neutralized within this period. In terms of the criminals equipment 4 Gun Trucks, 1 Bedford Truck, 3 Anti Aircraft guns were destroyed.”
Onyeuko added that captured weapons include: six Gun Trucks, 4 Anti Aircraft guns, one PKT gun, four General Purpose Machine Guns, one Automatic Grenade Launcher, one Dushka Gun, 1 Light Machine Gun, 48 AK 47 Rifles, one Locally-made Pistol and 10 AK 47 magazines.
He said: “Furthermore, large cache of ammunition were captured also. This include: a 36 Hand Grenade, 567 rounds of 7.62mm Special ammunition, 448 rounds of 12.7mm ammunition, 50 Rocket Propelled Grenade bombs, 17 locally manufactured rounds, three shells for making Improvised Explosive Device, a Smoke Grenade and two belts of PKT rounds and other assorted non lethal items.
He however lamented that an officer and two soldiers paid the supreme price, with four other soldiers wounded in action over the period.
He said the wounded soldiers had since been evacuated to a military medical facility and are currently responding to treatment.
He commended the troops of “Operation Fire Ball” for their resilience, doggedness and commitment since the beginning of the Operation, while urging them not to rest on their oars but build on the successes recorded so far.
He assured the people of the North East region of the Nigerian military high command’s determination to finally rout the remnants of Boko Haram/ISWAP criminals from their enclaves in this zone.