Okodili Ndidi, Abuja and AbdulGafar Alabelewe, Kaduna
TWO soldiers were killed when troops thwarted an ambush by Boko Haram and Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP) fighters.
Seventeen insurgents were killed in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.
Several insurgents were wounded when the men of 25 Task Force Brigade deployed in Damboa on with elements of Sector 2 Special Forces, overran the terrorists’ ambush on Damboa-Maiduguri Road.
Defence Media Operations Coordinator, Maj.-Gen. John Enenche, said four soldiers were wounded.
He said in a statement that the Theatre Commander of the Operation LAFIYA DOLE has been directed to deploy a Special Forces Battalion in Damboa-Bulabulin-Maiduguri axis.
The aim, he said, is to completely deny the terrorists any chance of escape during the final assault against them.
The statement reads: “The gallant troops of Operation Lafiya Dole under the subsidiary operation, Operation Kantana Jimlan have again displayed their combat superiority against the terrorists as part of their hightened offensive operations across the Theatre.
“On July 7, the troops…while on clearance operations on Damboa-Maiduguri Road, made contact with a Boko Haram/Islamic State’s West Africa Province criminals’ ambush team along their axis of advance.
“Instinctively, the valiant troops outflanked and engaged the criminals with overwhelming volume of fire power, forcing them to withdraw in disarray.
“In the aftermath of the encounter, 17 Boko Haram/Islamic State’s West Africa Province criminals were neutralised as several others were believed to have narrowly escaped with varying degrees of gunshot wounds.
“A cache of arms and ammunition were captured by the gallant troops.
“Regrettably, two valiant soldiers paid the supreme price while four others were wounded in action.
“However, the wounded-in-action soldiers have been evacuated to a military medical facility and currently responding positively to treatment.
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“Members of the public, particularly residents of the area, are requested to remain calm, law abiding and continue with their routine activities as all necessary measures have been put in by the Theatre Command to ensure all routes are safe for commuting without fear of attack by the criminals.”
The Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Yusufu Buratai, commended the troops for their resilience and patriotism, urging them to use their superior firepower to defeat bandits and terrorists.
He spoke during the graduation of 1,142 soldiers from special forces training at the Nigerian Army School of Infantry (NASI), Jaji Military Cantonment, Kaduna State.
The training, designed to strengthen the fight against insurgency in the Northeastern and banditry in Northwest, is the second in the aeries.
Buratai said told the troops: “You must go out there to defeat the criminals. They don’t have the training we have. They don’t have the weapons we have.
“I must commend the commandant of NASI and Starter Point Integrated Service Limited who had partnered the Nigerian Army in training you on counter terrorism, anti-banditry, amongst other trainings.”
He said the training would be continuous, especially on intelligence-based covert operations.
The Army chief reiterated his commitment to welfare of soldiers to boosts their morale.
He ordered the promotion of the 1,142 soldiers, most of who are in the rank of ‘private’, to their next ranks.
Buratai warned against indiscipline and abuse of social media.
Also yesterday, the Kebbi State Police Command arrested a suspected bandit with two AK 47 rifles and 154 calibre of 7.62×39mm ammunition in Birnin Kebbi.
Commissioner of Police, Mr Agunbiade Oluyemi-Lasore, said the suspect was arrested along with his wife by a team of policemen on a stop-and-search duty on Birnin Yauri-Zuru Road.
Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, said the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) would not relent in the battle against banditry.
He spoke during the inauguration of one block of 20 flats airmen transit quarters and internal road networks at 271 NAF Detachment in Birnin Gwari, Kaduna State.
The CAS said: “We must continue to fight until our beloved citizens are able to go about their daily activities and live freely.
“It is our obligation to professionally perform our roles to protect our dear country from both terrorism and militancy.
“There is no gainsaying that our air offensives against banditry in the ongoing military campaigns in Niger, Kaduna, Zamfara, Katsina and Sokoto states have so far, contributed greatly to the achievements of the Armed Forces of Nigeria. However, this is not the time to relent.”
The District Head of Sabon Birni in Sokoto State, Alhaji Isa Muhammad, praised the military on their onslaughts against bandits in the area.
He told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that normalcy has been restored in the area, which recently witnessed killings and displacement of communities by bandits.