Soldiers, varsity students, others slain as terrorists, guerrillas strike in north, east - SALIENT TIMES ONLINE

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Monday, 26 April 2021

Soldiers, varsity students, others slain as terrorists, guerrillas strike in north, east

…11 soldiers killed in Rivers, Borno

…Gunmen kill 19 persons in Anambra

…Bandits kill two more Greenfield University student

By Our Correspondent


Less than 48 hours after some security agents were killed at various check points in Rivers, suspected gunmen have again carried out fresh attacks in Abua/Odual Local Government Area of the state, killing five soldiers.

The 6th Division of the Nigerian Army, Port Harcourtwais yet to release a statement on the incident at press time.

However, SalientTimes learnt that the gunmen suddenly swooped on the formation and started shooting as residents in the area fled.

It was gathered that at the end of the shooting no fewer than five soldiers were believed to have lost their lives.

On Saturday, unknown gunmen had launched heavy attacks on checkpoints located along Elele to Omagwa axis of the state, leaving in their trail a yet to be ascertained number of security operatives killed.

The All Progressives Congress, APC, in the state on Monday condemned the killing of the security agents.

Spokesman for Rivers State APC, Mr. Ogbonnaya Nwuke, in a statement called on the Wike administration to redouble its efforts in re-ensuring that Rivers people and property were safe.

He described those that carried out the attacks as evil-minded people who must not be allowed to threaten the peace of the state.

The APC also condoled with the families of the officers killed and appealed to the authorities to ensure that their deaths in the line of duty were not in vain.

The APC said that what was happening in the state showed that the Wike administration was wrong in demolishing a flourishing security apparatus that was put in place by its predecessor.

Meanwhile the Chairman of Ikwerre Local Government Area, where the shootings occurred, Mr. Samuel Nwanosike, said that the people were still in shock over the gruesome killing of the customs and police officers at the checkpoints by gunmen on Saturday midnight.

Nwanosike sympathised with those who lost their lives and said the incident came as a surprise because the area was relatively peaceful.

He said: “I want to say that what happened today was an unfortunate incident and that Ikwerre local government people condemn it in totality and we sympathise with the family of those who lost their lives, gallant security officers who have been working tirelessly to maintain the peace and security of Ikwerre local government area.

“I can tell you that that surprise won’t happen again. The community is out now. The entire community is standing by security agents.

Hunters and local vigilante groups will work with security agents to make sure that this surprise does not happen again. I can assure you that by the grace of God it won’t happen again.”

Nwanosike blamed members of the rebel Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) for the attack, saying that it was a reprisal over the killing of their members in Imo State by security operatives: “Information available to us is that the attack is suspected to be coming from the members of IPOB who claim that they will avenge the death of their colleagues that were killed in far away Owerri and they raided all the checkpoints ranging from Elele down to Omagwa and took the lives of innocent Nigerians who had no crisis with anybody.”

Thanking the police and other agencies for beefing up security in the area, he urged residents and business operatives to go about their businesses without fear.

In the same vein, the National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN) condemned the attack on the security checkpoints in Rivers State.

The Chairman of NYCN, Chijioje Ihunwa, described the attack as brutal and unnecessary. He warned youths against allowing themselves to be used as hoodlums to destroy public facilities in the state.

Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike had, in a statement in Port Harcourt last Sunday, stated that “there was no justification for such a heinous and condemnable attack targeted against innocent security personnel on legitimate duty of protecting lives and property in the State.

“The Government of Rivers State is saddened by the unwarranted callous attack on security personnel. We offer our sympathies to the relatives of those who lost their lives in the attack.

“We condemn this heinous act, share the grief of the security agencies, and convey our sincere condolences,” he said.

In Anambra, 19 persons, including women and children were feared killed, following an attack by unknown gunmen in Ukpomachi Village, Awkuzu in Oyi Local Government Area of the state, in the early hours of yesterday.

According to an eye witness, the hoodlums stormed the area along the Igbariam junction axis killing the people and about 23 cows.

The situation caused panic and tension in the area which is largely inhabited by students of Anambra State University, Igbariam.

The incident which happened at about 2.00 am on Monday forced many students and residents to flee the area for fear of reprisal attacks.

The Public Relations officer of the university, Dr. Christian Chukwuka, in a telephone interview described the incident as unfortunate but noted that the school authorities may not have much to do over the panic as the students reside outside the institution.

Confirming the incident, the Chairman, Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria , South East Zone, Gidado Sidik, who visited the scene said 19 persons including women and children were slaughtered and twenty three cows shot by the unknown persons.

SalientTimes gathered that many students and residents upon hearing about the incident started relocating from their hostels while some parents went to pick their wards for fear of attack.

Public Relations Officer of the state Police Command, DSP Ikenga Tochukwu said that the Commissioner Of Police, CP Monday Bala Kuryas fsi, has ordered the immediate deployment of the Command’s Operational and Intelligence assets to identify and apprehend the killers.

According to Ikenga, a crack team of operatives of the command, led by an Assistant Commissioner of Police, visited the scene, conducted on-spot-the assessment of the incidence, successfully restored normalcy in the area and emplaced adequate security to forestall a reccurrence.

The CP assured the citizenry particularly the people of Akwuzu community that the command would fish out the perpetrators and urged them to remain calm.

Meanwhile, two more bodies of abducted Greenfield University students, killed by bandits have been recovered, security agencies confirmed to Kaduna State Government.

This was contained in statement issued by the state commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Mr Samuel Aruwan on Monday evening.

The retrieved corpses according to the Kaduna State security update Monday, have been evacuated to a mortuary, and the university has been notified of the development.

“The government of Kaduna State under the leadership of Malam Nasir El-Rufai is saddened by this evil perpetrated against innocent students abducted while pursuing their education for a glorious future.

“The government sends its deep empathy to their families and the university management, and prays for the repose of their souls.

“The Government will update the citizenry on further developments,” it stated.

Also, the Nigerian Army on Monday confirmed that it lost an officer and six soldiers at the weekend during fierce fighting with Boko Haram following attacks on its Mainok camp in Borno State.

The confirmation came just as the Nigerian Air Force said it is investigating an alleged incident of bombing its own troops.

The Army also said that troops killed scores of the terrorists and repelled the attackers after Air Task Force of Operation Lafiya Dole scrambled Alpha jets and helicopter gunship had decimated the bandits.

A source said the terrorists who came to the town situated about 60 kilometres west of Maiduguri, the Borno State capital at about noon had disguised themselves in a military convoy, went straight to the battalion’s armoury and attacked the personnel.

It also said that among the casualties was the commander of the battalion, a lieutenant-colonel.

“The terror groups disguised in military convoy and gained access to 156 TF Bn position in Mainok and headed straight to the arms store and started inflicting heavy firepower on the troops and dislodged them,” one military source said.

But many other soldiers escaped the sudden attack into the bush. The terrorists set ablaze an army tanker and some buildings in the military base.

But an official military account stated that “on Sunday April 25, 2021, troops of Operation Lafiya Dole deployed in Mainok, Borno State, came under multi-directional attacks by Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorists mounted on unconfirmed number of Gun Trucks as well as foot soldiers with possible intent of establishing a phantom caliphate in the town.”

This is contained in a statement issued by the Director, Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Mohammed Yerima in Abuja on Monday.

It said that “the terrorists were held by the gallant troops of 156 Task Force Battalion until the arrival of reinforcement teams from 7 Division, Special Army Super Camp Ngamdu and Army Super Camp 4, Benesheik.

“During the fire fight which lasted several hours, the gallant troops tactically lured a number of the terrorists into a killing zone within their camp where the Air Task Force of Operation Lafiya Dole scrambled Alpha jets and helicopter gunboats which took turns in decimating the already trapped terrorists.

“In the aftermath of the encounter, scores of Boko Haram terrorists were neutralized with their body part littering the area and a number of their gun trucks destroyed.

“Regrettably, one gallant officer and six soldiers paid the supreme sacrifice while 5 other soldiers sustained various degrees of injuries.

The wounded soldiers have already been evacuated to the military medical facility for treatment. Currently, troops are in full control of Mainok and environ as exploitation for fleeing terrorists is ongoing.

“The Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Ibrahim Attahiru has applauded troops of Operation Lafiya Dole for their resilience, commitment and doggedness and further reassured Nigerians of the Army’s unalloyed commitment to defeating Boko Haram/SWAP terrorists while urging citizens to always avail the troops with accurate and timely information for prompt action.”

Amid conflicting accounts on Monday the Nigerian Air Force said in its twitter handle that its attention has been drawn to reports alleging “How NAF Killed over 20 Nigerian Army Personnel by Accident in Air Strike” at Mainok which is about 55km to Maiduguri.

“The NAF wishes to state that visuals and reports being circulated are currently being investigated and the general public will be duly updated on the alleged incident,” the statement added.