In a latest counter-offensive, the Nigerian security forces have reclaimed Gamboru-Ngala, a strategic township on the border between Nigeria and Cameroon. The Borno State-based town, which has witnessed fierce fighting for the past one week, was cleared of terrorist threat on Thursday, August 28, 2014.
According to a source, who spoke to THISDAY, the largely rural and scarcely populated community is very strategic because it provided a direct crossing and link between Nigeria and Cameroon.
“You know since the crossing of the soldiers to Cameroon while in battle with BH boys, there has been fierce battle to secure Gamboru Ngala and our boys are in charge now,” the source said.
However, THISDAY gathered that the planned counter-offensive by the military in Gwoza is more complicated with soldiers said to be regrouping, reinforcing and re-strategising to take back the enclave, which Boko Haram has turned into an operational headquarters of their self-declared Islamic Caliphate.
It could be recalled that the military had launched a major offensive in several parts of Borno State, which has come under the threat of Boko Haram including Gwazo, but details were not divulged for tactical and operational reasons.
But a source ascribed the little progress made in the bid to reclaim the most strategic town of Gwoza to its difficult terrain. The source told THISDAY that having captured Gwoza, the Boko Haram terrorists dug in to consolidate their hold on the mountainous enclave.
“The mistake we made was to have allowed Gwoza to be captured in the first place because the terrain is to the advantage to those in charge of it,” he said. “The terrorists, now with their AA’s and other sophisticated weapons, have the advantage of attacking us from the top of the mountains, while also sheltering in the caves.
“You know they have been trying for a long time to take over Gwoza, which apart from the terrain, also has link with the Sambisa Forest.
“We are however reinforcing, getting weapons because the one we are currently using is old, out-dated and not a match to the modern weaponry being used by BH. We will try and take back Gwoza because we cannot leave it in the hands of BH, even though it’s a tall order.”
This was also confirmed yesterday when a military source stated that even though Gwoza is still firmly in the hands of the terrorists, the army is not relenting to dislodge them from the area.
It was also alleged Christians and moderate Muslims have fled the town for fear of being slaughtered and alleging that some of them have actually been killed on Friday.
Speaking to THISDAY, the Director of Defence Information (DDI), Maj-Gen. Chris Olukolade, said that even though the troops have made substantive gain, they will not be speaking on the matter for strategic and operational reasons.
“Things are going on, and I can tell you that there are substantive gains but we won’t be speaking much about the operations,” Olukolade said.
Meanwhile, Nigerian Air Force has debunked the claims that they are not providing enough air cover for the ground troops.
“I can tell you that Air Force has been outstanding in this operation. With the new procurements, things will improve substantially,” the senior officer said.
It could be recalled that Boko Haram on Sunday released a video in which it said it had established an Islamic state in the towns and villages it controls in north-eastern Nigeria.
This has since been dismissed by the Nigerian military, which has then launched a counter-offensive to retake these towns.