A triad of Nigerian Air Force L39 Albatros advanced trainer/light attack jets fly past in tight formation
23 May, 2014
by Ahmed Mohammed,
Fighter jets have begun conducting raids on camps set up by suspected Boko Haram militants in forests of Bauchi State, security sources and residents of nearby villages told Daily Trust yesterday.
Residents of Ganjuwa and Darazo local government areas said they had sighted military aircraft heading towards the forests and heard sounds of bombings in the early hours of yesterday. Suspected Boko Haram militants had been reported to be operating in the two LGAs, as well in neighbouring Gwaram of Jigawa State.
Locals had said that since December armed men were setting up camps in forests, infiltrating rural communities, engaging in recruitment drive and launching regular attacks in towns and villages of the two states.
Yesterday, residents of Soro in Ganjuwa LGA and Darazo said the military conducted bombings from around 5am to 8am in forests located in the two areas. They said they heard loud sounds of explosives from the forests where camps of armed men were reportedly located.
Some people in rural communities said heavy bombing sent shock waves that were felt in the villages. A man who spoke to our reporter said home buildings and the ground “vibrated” as a result of the bombings. Locals said shortly after the explosions, they saw a Nigerian military aircraft hovering in the skies.
A reliable security source in Bauchi confirmed that the military has started an operation in the forests but did not give details. The source said after the bombings, ground troops are expected to conduct a mop-up exercise in order to arrest any remaining armed men.
Insurgents have been reported to be operating in the Balmo forest in Darazo, Burra forest in Ningi, Soro in Ganjuwa,another forest between Zara-Miya also in Ganjuwa, as well as in Yuga forest in Toro LGA, all in Bauchi State. Some of the areas share border with Gwaram in Jigawa, where gunmen had also been conducting deadly raids.
‘Boko Haram presence’
A Daily Trust investigation had found that at least 15 communities in Bauchi and Jigawa had seen presence of suspected Boko Haram men, who move around freely wielding guns, preaching their strand of religion and trying to financially induce young men to join the sect.
Locals first reported noticing “strange” men late last year, and villagers said they told the authorities but little seemed to have been done since then. Because of that,the group’s numerical strength appeared to have swelled, and its members got emboldened.
Since January, deadly attacks have been launched in many towns and villages in the two states. Many vehicles have been seized by gunmen along the highways; banks have been raided; while police and school buildings, as well as telecoms installations, have been destroyed.
The presence of these people is also blamed for several cases of kidnapping-for-ransom recorded in some of the areas. In one instance, up to N20 million was said to have been paid to secure the release of an abducted man.
Bauchi villages that have seen Boko Haram presence and activity in varying degrees include Shadarki, Dodwu,Soro and Miya in Ganjuwa LGA; Yelwan Darazo, Shadarki and Darazo in Darazo LGA; Burra in Ningi LGA; as well as in Jama’are and Itas-Gadau LGAs.Insurgent attacks have also been recorded in Shira and Misau LGAs.
Jigawa villages affected include Gwani, Kadale, Zimburun, Fagam, Basirka and Tage villages, all in Gwaram Local Government Area.Gwaram town itself has seen a deadly attack last month.
The military action in the affected Bauchi areas yesterday came a week after the Joint Task Force personnel were reported to have killed 60 suspected insurgents in Jigawa State.