Nigerian troops and a 4WD van at the scene of a suicide bomb attack

Nigerian troops and a 4WD van at the scene of a suicide bomb attack

Written by Ismail Mudashir & Maryam
Thursday, 05 July 2012

Soldiers yesterday night invaded Maraban Jos, a prominent small town near Kaduna, following an explosion suspected to be that of an Improvised Explosive Device (IED). It was learnt that the explosion was heard when soldiers who were returning from the Army Day celebration were passing through the area.

“Whether the sound was from inside their vehicle or not, I don’t know; all what I know was that the thunderous sound was heard when the soldiers were passing through the area; I don’t know the number of casualty but if there is any, it will be among them,” he said.He said as soon as the sound was heard soldiers were drafted to the area and that they were arresting residents of the area.

But a cleric in a telephone interview said it was not a bomb blast. “A tyre of heavy truck burst when a roadside tyre repairer was fixing it. The heavy sound created confusion among the soldiers who were in their vans. As soon as the sound was heard, they rushed down and took cover,” he said. According to the cleric who pleaded anonymity, the soldiers invaded the area arresting the people indiscriminately.

Contacted, the Assistant Director, Army Public Relations of 1 Mechanized Division, Colonel Sani Usman, confirmed the incident, saying an improvised explosive device (IED)exploded in the area. “There was no life lost, but one person sustained some injuries; he has been taken care of and now recuperating,” he said.

Soldiers, according to him, were now on ground and cordoned off the area, and assured residents of safety of lives and property, urging residents not to panic as they were on top of the situation.

About beegeagle

BEEG EAGLE -perspectives of an opinionated Nigerian male with a keen interest in Geopolitics, Defence and Strategic Studies


  1. peccavi says:

    Interesting change in targeting styles. And potentially very dangerous

  2. beegeagle says:

    On the contrary, this was where the began from. When the JSTF first landed in Borno at this time last year, they endured near-daily roadside IED attacks.

    In one episode, a woman or someone who was dressed like one dropped an insulated bucket( ‘cooler’ in Nigerian parlance) from which she was supposedly selling drinks and satchet water, close to a parked 4WD van and moved away. Once out of sight, the insulated bucket exploded, injuring six soldiers and killing one.

    Some IEDs used to be planted in the middle of the road for patrol vehicles to drive over them! Check our archives for July and August 2011.

    The return from the USA last November, of combat engineers and their trainers changed much of that. Signal jammers were acquired and distributed to patrol teams and many more Panhard VBL and Otokar Cobra APCs were deployed.

    For those who keep records, how many episodes of armoured vehicles getting damaged or destroyed by IED attacks have you heard about? For me, only one incident. This happened in November last year at Damaturu when three suicide attacks attacked the convoy of the Commanding Officer, 241 Recce Battalion as he made to enter the SSS HQ at Damaturu for a security meeting. The attackers and three defending SSS agents were killed in the ensuing gun battle and explosions which resulted from 3 powerful suicide IED attacks on an unnamed armoured vehicle(either a Panhard VBL or an Otokar Cobra for sure) which severely damaged the armoured vehicle.

    The armoured vehicle had shielded the car in which the Battalion CO was travelling, saving the man from certain death.

    Back to the attack which formed the subject-matter of this thread, the choice of a night-time attack after yesterday’s firepower deminstration at Jaji. The attackers possibly chose the option of a night-time attack when it would be less easy to get spotted and the troops a bit unguarded after the day’s exertions.

    For those who do not know the Kaduna-Jaji-Zaria military continuum, Mararabban Jos(Hausa for “Jos junction”) is a small but bustling nodal town/truckers watering hole which is situated between Jaji and Kaduna and is the gateway to the 200 mile Kaduna-Jos run.

    That would ordinarily not be the best place for a targeted IED attack. Not with so many petrol tankers and trailers parked all around. However, we have since learnt that cross-country petrol tanker drivers have been trafficking arms between the products distribution hub that is LAGOS and the conflict zones such Kaduna(900km), Zaria(970km), Kano(1149km), Jos(1180km), Bauchi(1212km), Gombe(1400km) and Maiduguri(1675km).

    We all might recall that a chieftain of the Petroleum Tanker Drivers Association was actually captured last February in a joint military-SSS raid at his Kaduna home over allegations of gun-running

    • peccavi says:

      It was the night time attack on a relatively soft target that caught my eye.
      If they start doing more of these it will mean a change in pattern for military transport, and it will mean resources will have to be diverted to protect even the most mundane vehicles on tasking.
      Its a clever tactic, In Iraq our good friends in Jaish al Mahdi, took to ambushing the water tankers coming into Basra Palace, the petrol, ammo and other stores were all heavily defended convoys, while water came up by itslef. After a few days of concerted effort they succeeded in stopping water going into the Palace, after that water was pumped direct fromt he river for mundane tasks and drinking water had to be convoyed as well. by such tactics they sucked in our combat power for a mundane task.
      Another interesting aside is that the chosen attack area was populated by black Iraqis who made a living washing cars
      It would be wise now for formations in the comabt area to appoint an officer to completely overlook and revise their transport and travel arrangements, robust measures to protect Vulnerable points, vary movement times and routes, avoid travelling in obvious military vehicles through vulnerable areas, train drivers in situational awareness, ensure vehicles always travel in pairs etc

  3. benjy32 says:

    I just hope b4 this bastards move to VBIED they are contained that is the most lethal of them all i saw first hand what it can do to MRV’S and tanks.
    Mr beegs one point i still dont get and nobody is talking about is the need for citzen and security apparatus co-ordinating that is the only way to win this fight,why am i saying this is Nigerian security are brutal and that is a big factor in counter insurgencies, community relations
    and creating insentive for whistle blowers will do a lot of good.what do u think?

  4. beegeagle says:

    And you make a whole lot of sense, Peccavi. You just have to pardon me because I am looking at the ground as I know it.

    I have never veered off the Kaduna-Zaria road to know if there are untarred roads through the countryside. In my mind’s eye, I am looking at Jaji which is exactly midway between Zaria and Kaduna. Jaji is situated 20 miles to the north of Kaduna.

    Travelling between Jaji and Kaduna, you MUST pass through Mararaban Jos and Rigacikun which are small thriving towns situated on the Jaji to Kaduna stretch. I am looking at the right side of the road where you have stuff such as Sambawa Farms. In there, it is clear that sections of the 1,301km Lagos-Kano rail line are visible but no unpaved roads are visible in this urbanised continuum, unless the troops would have to drive their vans on the railway track!

    Come on gentlemen, too many of us know the 40-mile Kaduna-Jaji-Zaria military/security continuum very well. Like I said, there is no direct untarred road running parallel to the expressway. So how do you travel incognito from Jaji to KD?

    Even if you bypass Mararaban Jos where this attack took place, Rigachikun which is virtually a satellite town on the northern outskirts of Kaduna metropolis, is known to be the nest of Boko Haram in the Kaduna metropolitan area. So what gives? They do not sleep at Rigachikun and Mararaban Jos either!

    With these facts in mind, Peccavi, would you say that it is best to move after midnight. There are a lot of Otokar Cobra APCs at Jaji – owned by the training institutions and demonstration battalion in that garrison town – Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Infantry Corps Centre, Counter Terrorism and Counter Insurgency Centre, Nigerian Army Peace Keeping Centre, Warrant Officers Academy and the APC Wing of the Nigerian Army School of Infantry.

    If I had my way, I would run two trips between 0200hrs and 0330hrs. Get four Otokar Cobra APCs to have about 15 4WD vans hemmed in (no lorries to reduce the risk of heavy casualties,please). Drop off the first batch at Dalet Barracks and go get the 2nd batch.

    At first light, everyone can then disperse in two and threes. We are at war, says the COAS, and all troops should be on the right footing.

    • peccavi says:

      Thanks for the insight oga, local knowledge at its best.
      You see what I’m saying, with 1 or 2 bombs they will be able to disrupt the pattern of life of the troops at the base, enforce the use of heavier vehicles (i.e. increased wear and tear) and disruption for locals from heavy vehicles at night. Good guerilla tactics by BH.
      Good plan but I’d actually reverse the order, I’d let soft skin vehicles travel at night as they are faster and could speed through the vulnerable points (VP).
      Mararaban Jos as described is a classic so I would put a check point at either end and run patrols in between. Clear the side of the roads at least 5-10m on either side of the road the length of the area, and hire locals as road sweepers. By keeping the road clean they also watch out for bombs.
      This should be replicated for all built up areas that are choke pints with a dedicated route protection force that patrols checking culverts, etc for IED’s.
      If the threat is sustained, then the APC supported convoys should be implemented but travelling during the day.
      Propaganda is vital in this and it is easy for BH to send out SMS’s saying, look we have frightened them into travelling at night

  5. beegeagle says:

    You are absolutely spot on, Benjy.

    Everyone is now emphasizing the need for synergies between the defence and security organs and the public. The SSS have regular admonitions soliciting public support in between breaks on NTA News. The Police Community Relations Committees are interfacing like never before while the Army even have a new Chieftaincy of Civil-Military Relations just to get in tune with the exigencies of these times.

    In the conflict zones, there have been occasional reports of people blowing the whistle on insurgents whose affiliations; make no mistake about it, are known by the locals in whose midst they reside.

    However, the more these terrorists are prevented from operating freely, the likelier it is that the people in the terror-afflicted communities will squeal on the insurgents living among them.

    It is against this backdrop that security forces offensives must be predicated on accurate intelligence. They should also show benevolence to and befriend civilians in the frontline communities with a view to earning their trust and thereby laying the foundation for cooperative relations.

    The indiscriminate attacks on civilians by Boko Haram is clearly aimed at controlling the local populace by foisting a clear atmosphere of fear.

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